Diageo denies plans to ship from Methil

Methil Docks
Methil Docks

LEVEN’S biggest employer has dismissed reports that it is about to swap road haulage for shipping.

Transport authority SEStran announced drinks giant Diageo had agreed to export goods from Methil Docks IN September.

Not only would the European-funded project revitalise the fortunes of the docks, it would save tonnes of carbon every year by taking 40 lorries off roads daily.

But, bizarrely, Diageo has since revealed it had never discussed the matter with SEStran, let alone agreed to it.

A spokesperson said: “Diageo has no plans to move goods from our bottling facility at Leven to Grangemouth by freight ship and we have no arrangement in place with SEStran in relation to this proposed service.

“Diageo is committed to reducing its impact on the environment and, as part of that, we will consider opportunities to move freight away from road transport where it is commercially viable to do so and where there is a clear environmental benefit. However, we currently have no plans to do so by sea from Leven.”

Less than 24 hours earlier, South East of Scotland Transport Partnership’s (SEStran’s) director Alex Macaulay had announced the sea service had secured European funding for a year-long trial and would be launched on September 27 by Transport Minister Keith Brown.

The service would be run in partnership with Forth Ports which would procure the vessel needed.

According to reports Mr Macaulay commented: “A proportion of the cargo will go by sea from Methil to Grangemouth, the logic being it provides an alternative to [Diageo] which is weather independent.”

He added: “There will need to be work done at Methil for a start for security reasons because it is a high value cargo.”

Given Diageo’s official denial, the Mail approached Mr Macaulay for explanation.

He said: “This is a common user project that is aimed at providing a service for business in the Fife area that is being developed by Forth Ports and SEStran.

“We hope that Diageo will make use of the service, but it is entirely a matter for its own commercial judgement”.

Diageo’s involvement aside, the Mail asked SEStran to confirm if the project would go ahead in any case but was told SEStran had no further comment to make at this time.

Meanwhile, MSP Tricia Marwick blasted the partnership’s original announcement, saying it had misled the public.

She commented: “I would always support anything that opened up Methil Docks. Forth Ports has been guilty of letting it run down over the years, however, this present proposal is nothing more than that.

“As I understand it, SEStran has not consulted with any of its partners. This is no more than an aspiration and it would be wholly wrong to raise the hopes and expectations of the people of Levenmouth that this is going ahead in the area.”