Forth road bridge is a vital £1billion lifeline to Fife

The Forth Road Bridge, which has been described as a 'fantastic workhorse' for the Fife economy, sits eerily quiet. Pic: Scott Louden
The Forth Road Bridge, which has been described as a 'fantastic workhorse' for the Fife economy, sits eerily quiet. Pic: Scott Louden

Since its abrupt closure, Fifers have become bitterly aware of how much they depend on the Forth Road Bridge.

But, what financial impact does the bridge’s closure have on the kingdom as a whole?

New research conducted by 4-consulting, based in Kirkcaldy, reveals that wages of £1 billion a year - or £3 million a day - are paid to workers who commute from Fife.

That wage bill matches the entire value of exports from Fife’s manufacturing businesses and represents nearly a fifth of Fife’s total economy.

Thomas Kane, research manager at 4-consulting said he was “surprised” by the results, which were gathered from data stretching back five years.

He commented: “You just never quite think of the impact of it; nearly a fifth is quite incredible.

“It shows our economic future is becoming increasingly tied to Edinburgh.”

Last week the Road Hauliers Association announced they would be seeking compensation from the government after claiming the bridge closure was costing the industry an extra £600,000 a day.

The economic impact on individuals and businesses in Fife and elsewhere was less easily assessed, said Mr Kane.

“You can see goods loaded onto the back of a truck over the bridge and people can understand that,“ he said.

“Less transparent is the financial impact on a huge workforce of professionals who are employed by Edinburgh companies and commute from Fife.”

Government statistics reveal that 14,468 workers in Fife commute to Edinburgh city centre, 1,801 to west Lothian and 1,285 to Falkirk.

In the short term, researchers believe workers will take the bridge closure “on the chin” and mitigate its effects by working from home or taking holidays.

In the longer term, however, the bridge’s inability to function as a vital artery through the east of Scotland could impact on the economic future of the Kingdom.

Mr Kane said:“The bridge has served Fife exceptionally well; it’s been a fantastic workhorse for the Fife economy but instances like this will play a part in the decisions of major companies deciding where to locate in the future.

“It could be a tipping point for them because decisions are made in the margins; it’s finely balanced.”

Researchers believe the data proves that Edinburgh and Fife authorities must worktogether to reach solutions which benefit commuters.

Edinburgh firms also have a stake in ensuring the welfare of their Fife workers and their families, whether that be schools or affordable housing.

“When Edinburgh does well, we do extremely well,” said Mr Kane.