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


, I am publishing a draft infrastructure investment plan that covers the five financial years from April 2021. The plan delivers our national infrastructure mission.

Infrastructure investment touches the lives of every person in Scotland, from the homes that we live in and the water, energy and telecommunications that we consume to how we travel to the places where we work, shop and learn. In addition, of course, it affects the schools, hospitals and other facilities from where our vital public services are delivered.

As we tackle the harms that have been caused by Covid-19, which are being compounded by the fast-approaching shock of the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union, infrastructure has a vital role to play in helping businesses and communities to adapt and recover.

We are living in genuinely turbulent times, and it is essential that the Government shows leadership and provides as much stability and certainty as we can. The plan offers a robust pipeline of work that will help to stimulate a green recovery by offering good, green jobs, stimulating supply chains and building market confidence.

Through this year’s programme for government, we launched our national mission for jobs. Infrastructure investment and the plan that I am publishing today will be key to its success. In 2018, the First Minister announced the national infrastructure mission—a commitment to overcome historically lower levels of UK investment and to seek to reach internationally competitive levels. That mission means that there will be £33 billion of Scottish Government investment in the next five years, which it is estimated will support around 45,000 full-time equivalent jobs across those years.

Earlier this year, following broad public engagement, the Infrastructure Commission for Scotland made recommendations on the right future infrastructure priorities. It set out a 30-year vision of infrastructure supporting an inclusive, net zero carbon economy. Today’s plan responds to the Infrastructure Commission’s phase 1 recommendations and shows how we will implement them in consultation with industry, delivery partners and the people of Scotland. The infrastructure plan that I am publishing today sets out our long-term vision for Scottish infrastructure, which is supported by three core themes: enabling the transition to net zero and environmental sustainability; boosting inclusive economic growth; and building resilient and sustainable places.

The plan is closely connected to the recast climate change plan update, which is due to be published in December, and it recognises the vital role that Scotland’s natural environment can play in our infrastructure system. The plan shows how we will enhance our approach to choosing the right future investments and introduces a new infrastructure investment hierarchy, which places an emphasis on maintaining, enhancing and repurposing what we already have. Over time, that will make our public infrastructure investments more sustainable and will deliver better long-term outcomes for the people who use that infrastructure.

The infrastructure investment plan includes the details of around £24 billion of major projects and national programmes that we can confirm now, with more to be added in future years. The package of investments will give Scotland strong foundations for a wellbeing economy, ensuring that society thrives economically, socially and environmentally and that we deliver sustainable and inclusive growth for all.

We will strengthen digital connectivity to help to keep us connected and improve our learning and business opportunities. We will invest in energy efficiency and low-carbon heat solutions to reduce emissions, making our homes and buildings warmer. We will invest in climate resilience, protecting more homes and businesses from flood risk and adapting to changes at our coast that are caused by climate change.

We will deliver more affordable and social homes, continuing to ensure that we have the right homes in the right places. We will operate a safe, sustainable, integrated and resilient strategic transport system, providing investment in railways, ports and harbours, and our road network. We will enable community-led regeneration and town centre revitalisation as part of a new place-based investment programme. That will encourage collaborative working, linking and aligning funding initiatives to ensure that we have a coherent approach in order to effectively progress our 20-minute neighbourhood ambition, as set out in the programme for government.

The plan is by its nature a national infrastructure plan, but it is driven by the needs of our villages, towns and cities, delivering tangible benefits for local communities all over Scotland. In the Highlands and Islands, people told us that they wanted our investments to support tourism, improve connectivity and create jobs. That is why we will invest £30 million in delivering the national islands plan and enhance digital connectivity in rural areas through the reaching 100 per cent programme.

In the north-east, we are investing £220 million in the Baird and ANCHOR—Aberdeen and north centre for haematology, oncology and radiotherapy—project in Aberdeen to improve the efficiency of buildings as well as the experience of patients.

Across the central belt, our investment will target improvements in education, justice and healthcare facilities, including the Edinburgh cancer centre, prison facilities and the new national secure adolescent in-patient service in Irvine. With partners, we will support the National Manufacturing Institute Scotland, the redevelopment of the Royal Botanic Garden and Mission Clyde low-carbon heat networks.

In the south of Scotland, we are investing in tree nursery capacity, helping to increase carbon storage and biodiversity.

We will boost economic growth across each region of Scotland, contributing £525 million to city region and growth deals, be that in Glasgow, Edinburgh, the borderlands or Moray. Those deals will bring to those areas transformational opportunities for inclusive economic growth that are based on local need, creating jobs, improving transport links and digital capacity, enhancing learning environments and increasing housing supply.

I have taken the proactive decision to set out our plans now for consultation with the people of Scotland because our economy and our challenges and opportunities require it. However, our final budget envelope for capital investment in future years will depend on the outcomes of the forthcoming UK spending review. I urge the UK Government to prioritise capital stimulus in its spending plans.

My intention is to bring together the views that we receive through our consultation on the plan, including from local government and other delivery partners, with our confirmed budget settlement. That will enable us to finalise our infrastructure plan and our capital budget allocations.

In the interim, the Government is publishing today a capital spending review framework to complement the infrastructure plan. It sets out high-level planning assumptions that will inform capital allocations over the next five years, whether directly in infrastructure or other areas such as protecting and increasing jobs, or through our capitalisation of the Scottish National Investment Bank.

The capital spending review and the infrastructure investment plan, once finalised, will provide a strong and coherent framework for directing, analysing, shaping and prioritising future commitments. They demonstrate how we will deliver key outcomes and value for money, and how our funding and finance is matched to our decisions.

Although this is a five-year plan, it builds the foundations for a stronger Scotland for decades to come: a Scotland that will harness new opportunities and be resilient in the face of future challenges. The plan will steer the investments that will help our short-term response to Covid-19 and our longer-term recovery. It will drive innovation, ensure access to growing global markets, create good, sustainable jobs and support a just and fair transition to our net zero emissions and wellbeing economy.

I am consulting on the draft plan to ensure the right final approach that benefits the whole of Scotland, both now and in the future. On that basis, I commend the plan to the Parliament.