6. To ask the Scottish Government how many meetings it has had with production companies since January 2017 regarding locating a new film studio in the Lothian region. (S5O-01034)
We have committed to supporting a range of studio facilities. In my initial answer, I said that we were looking at on-going work
“to ensure that Scotland has an enhanced range of studio facilities.”
We currently have a number of studios; for example, the Pyramids business park in Bathgate was used for “T2 Trainspotting” and facilities in Livingston were used for “Churchill”. It is important that we have permanent facilities, and a number are already in development. We certainly want to encourage any private sector developer with an interest in the area to bring forward proposals, and our authorities and public bodies will engage with them.
Will the cabinet secretary ensure that, in looking at any part of the proposed location of such a site in Midlothian, full account is taken of the traffic pressure on the A701, which is already congested? It is a bottleneck, with housing developments down the spine. That is causing my constituents, particularly those in Penicuik, great difficulties.
As the member might be aware, the planning process is not fully completed, so she will understand that I cannot make any detailed comment. The reasons for Scottish ministers proposing to grant planning permission are set out in the Government’s letter dated 3 April, which is publicly available. I refer the member to that letter.
In addition to enhancing studio facilities, we are also making sure that the production fund is enhanced. On top of the nearly £11 million that Creative Scotland invested in 2015-16, we have produced a production growth fund of £3 million, £1.875 million of which has already been awarded. Productions that have benefited from the production growth fund include “T2 Trainspotting”, “Churchill”, “Hush”, “Etruscan Smile”, “In Plain Sight”, “Loch Ness” and “The Wife”. The Scotland-based thriller “Keepers”, which stars Gerard Butler, will also receive funding. That will ensure that the Scottish film industry can benefit from the opportunities that films provide to improve skills and build capacity for future film opportunities.