Aberdeen City Region Deal (Transport Projects)

– in the Scottish Parliament at on 27 April 2022.

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Photo of Douglas Lumsden Douglas Lumsden Conservative

3. To ask the Scottish Government whether it will provide an update on progress regarding the transport projects funded from the £254 million announced in 2016 and as part of the Aberdeen city region deal. (S6O-01000)

I remind members of my entry in the register of members’ interests, which shows that I am still a councillor on Aberdeen City Council.

Photo of Jenny Gilruth Jenny Gilruth Scottish National Party

In 2016, the Scottish Government committed to invest up to £125 million in the Aberdeen city region deal, matched by the UK Government. Alongside the deal, the Scottish Government announced an additional £254 million of investment in the north-east’s infrastructure. That includes £200 million to improve journey times and increase capacity on key rail links between Aberdeen and the central belt and £24 million for a new grade-separated junction at the Laurencekirk A90/A937 south junction.

The option selection process for the rail improvement project is nearing completion and we expect to complete the project by the end of 2026. We also continue to push forward with the statutory process for the A90/A937 Laurencekirk junction improvement scheme, and we are working with objectors to the scheme, including Aberdeenshire Council, to resolve concerns wherever possible. Delivery of the scheme itself can commence only if it is approved under the relevant statutory procedures, at which point a timetable for the construction phase can be set.

Photo of Douglas Lumsden Douglas Lumsden Conservative

In 2008, the SNP first promised £200 million to reduce rail journey times between Aberdeen and the central belt, but no improvement has been made. That was another broken promise from this SNP Government, just like when Alex Salmond said that the first decision that he would make if he was elected First Minister in 2007 was to dual the road between Ellon and Peterhead, with the decision being made within 100 days of his gaining office. If we fast forward more than 5,000 days, the north-east is still waiting. When will this Government stop the soundbites, stop breaking its promises to the people of the north-east and start delivering on the commitments that it has made?

Photo of Jenny Gilruth Jenny Gilruth Scottish National Party

I thank Mr Lumsden for his supplementary question, but I must remind the member about the broken promises in relation to six city deals across Scotland that remain short-changed by Westminster to the tune of £420 million, or approximately £439 per household. That is not levelling up. It is very clear that the UK Government is not able to match Scottish Government funding.

As I have outlined, we have invested £379 million in Aberdeen while only £125 million has come from the UK Government. That is the same Conservative Party Government that reneged on the investment in carbon capture and storage that was promised to the people of the north-east in 2014. The north-east can certainly do better, so I will take no lectures from Mr Lumsden on broken promises.

As I outlined, by 2026 an additional £200 million will have been invested in increasing rail passenger and freight capacity between Aberdeen and the central belt, as ministers previously committed to do.

Photo of Gillian Martin Gillian Martin Scottish National Party

Does the minister share my disappointment that the United Kingdom Government has failed to match the £379 million in Scottish Government spend on city deals, resulting in a shortfall of £254 million, which is the equivalent of £1,125 for every household in the north-east?

Photo of Jenny Gilruth Jenny Gilruth Scottish National Party

Absolutely. I am really disappointed that the UK Government has refused to even match our £500 million just transition fund, despite the £300 billion in oil revenues from the North Sea that has flowed to the Treasury since the 1970s.

The future for the north-east is bright, and I am proud that we are putting our money where our mouth is when it comes to ensuring a just transition to sustainable energy and greener jobs with our £14.3 million skills investment to provide immediate training and enterprise opportunities for up to 3,000 people across the region.

Good green jobs do not just happen, which is why, on Monday of this week, the First Minister announced annual funding of £100,000 for the Scottish Trades Union Congress to support officials to liaise with workers and Government, to continue to influence and shape our delivery of a just transition.