Draft Infrastructure Investment Plan 2021-22 to 2025-26

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 24th September 2020.

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Photo of Michael Matheson Michael Matheson Scottish National Party

Let me deal with the last point first. I will make a similar point to the one that I made to Graham Simpson. The infrastructure investment plan does not mention every project that will be taken forward over the next five years. It contains information on £24 billion-worth of projects that have been through the process of getting to a final business case and can go into the infrastructure investment pipeline. Of course, projects will be added to that, including road projects such as, potentially, one for the A83. I am sure the member will welcome the quick action that I have taken in publishing the 11 options ahead of schedule—not in December, but in September—to allow local communities to take a view on the opportunities around the alternative route.

I will return to Jackie Baillie’s point on SMEs and local businesses. One of the real benefits of the infrastructure investment plans investment hierarchy, which I think I mentioned to Colin Smyth, is that there is a much greater focus on maintenance projects. For example, the £1.5 billion of additional maintenance on things such as trunk road contracts allows SMEs and local businesses to be much more engaged in the process than they are in larger capital-based projects for which they are unable to compete.

One of the assessments that has been undertaken in development of the plan involves consideration of the wider regional economic impact that it could have. Localised maintenance programmes enable us to achieve that impact much more easily. I assure Jackie Baillie that one of the central things that we have been thinking about as we take forward the plan is how to support SMEs and local businesses in capital projects. The approach that we have set out in the investment hierarchy can assist us in achieving that.