The closure of the Forth Bridge will have cost the industry an estimated £16m by the new year, despite the DfT’s decison to relax drivers’ hour laws.

The bridge was closed at midnight on 4 December after a crack in the steelworks led to it being deemed unsafe for use.

The RHA said it was “deeply concerned” the Scottish government was failing to “fully appreciate” the knock on effects of the closure on the industry.

Routes avoiding the bridge could add up to 60 miles to each round trip, the association said, adding around £30 to each trip. With around 10,500 HGVs crossing the bridge every day, this adds up to an estimated daily £600,000.

RHA chief executive Richard Burnett said: “The knock-on effects for hauliers are already beginning to bite. Although we welcome the dedicated HGV route on the A985, the additional cost to hauliers is immense.”

He added that “the overall efficiency of the haulage industry in Scotland is already being greatly reduced as a journey that would take 30 minutes can now take up to three hours if the route is congested”.

The FTA echoed the RHA’s concern over mounting costs, and added that the time of year was particularly problematic for the industry.

Chris MacRae, FTA’s head of policy for Scotland, said: “This has come at the busiest time of year for freight operators and will cause serious issues in terms of delivery times and drivers’ hours over the Christmas period.

“We would urge Transport Scotland to ensure that any planned roadworks on the alternative routes are postponed and that HGV-suitable diversions - including those for petrochemicals - are explored to minimise disruption as much as possible.”

However both associations welcomed the DfT's decision to temporarily suspend drivers' hours legislation for those affected.

This temporary relaxation applies from 00:01 on Tuesday 8 December 2015 and ends at 23:59 on Wednesday 6 January 2016 (it will last for up to 30 days or and until the bridge is re-opened during that period).  This relaxation will apply to:

  • Goods vehicle drivers who would have used the Forth Road Bridge for the purpose of long distance movements involving journeys through and beyond Fife and the Lothians.
  • Goods vehicle drivers and operators with bases either side of the Forth Road Bridge within the recognised diversion route of the A985, M876, M9 and M90.