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 will refer to a couple of the points that Colin Smyth raised. He is right to refer to projects that have delays or in relation to which costs escalate—sadly, those things are not uncommon for major infrastructure projects. Of course, not all projects come in over budget—a good example is the Queensferry crossing project, which came in under budget. Projects come in over budget for a variety of reasons. Clearly, some infrastructure projects are delayed at the moment as a result of the pandemic. Delays can also be due to unforeseen weather events, which impacted the delivery of the Aberdeen western peripheral route, for example, and major building projects can face geological issues.

I assure Colin Smyth that the investment hierarchy that is set out in the infrastructure investment plan is, as recommended by the Infrastructure Commission for Scotland, based on looking at how we can enhance our existing assets more effectively so that we can make better use of them.

One of the economic benefits that comes from that approach is that it allows small and medium-sized businesses to be engaged. Rather than having single big projects on their own, we have projects of a smaller capital value, which allows smaller local businesses and SMEs to be involved in these processes. That is one of the real values that will come from the infrastructure investment plan over the next five years.

Colin Smyth referred to ferries. He will be aware that that programme will be taken forward through our ferries plan. We will continue to ensure that we invest in ferries to support island communities across the country.