The Scottish Government has unveiled a £60bn infrastructure investment plan that includes plans to build High Speed 2 as far as Edinburgh and spend £10bn between now and 2015 on shovel ready projects.
Cabinet secretary for infrastructure and capital investment Alex Neil committed to connecting all Scotland’s cities by dual carriageway and to paying up to £9bn towards completing the High Speed 2 line from north west England to Edinburgh. He made the pledges as he published the Scottish Government’s Infrastructure and Investment Plan, which details plans for up to £60bn of spending right up until 2030.
The plan includes 54 major infrastructure projects and 33 programmes, across a range of areas, including schools, hospitals and housing.
Key transport schemes include dualling the A9 between Perth and Inverness by 2025, with a view to completing dualling of the A96 and the dualled road network between all Scottish cities by 2030. Neil also committed to completing construction of the Forth Replacement Crossing by 2016.
He also committed £8bn to £9bn of Scottish funds to complete the route of High Speed 2 from North West England to Scotland, although he expects the Westminster Parliament to pay the rest of the £15bn it is expected to cost to complete that section of the scheme. He said minister’s would continue to press for this to come to Scotland at the earliest opportunity, although final decisions on timing and route rest with the Westminster Government.
“Investing in our infrastructure is absolutely vital to grow our economy. Today’s Infrastructure Investment Plan demonstrates exactly how, when and what we will invest in to deliver that goal, bringing substantial benefits for all of Scotland,” he said.
“We have been crystal clear that we view capital investment as the vital foundation to lead us out of tough economic times. That is why, against the back drop of Westminster cuts in our capital budget, the Scottish Government has switched spending from revenue to capital and put in place a £2.5bn Non-Profit Distributing (NPD) pipeline. NPD is the Scottish Government’s alternative PFI model.
“As a consequence of Scottish Government spending decisions, total capital spending in Scotland will rise by 25% by 2014/15,” he said.
Over the remaining four years of the spending review period the Scottish Government has committed to supporting investment of around £10bn through its capital budget, the NPD pipeline and by switching resource spending into capital.
“Our clear commitment to dual the routes between all of our major cities by 2030 and complete the dualling of the A9 by 2025 goes further than any previous administration in Scotland. These improved connections will provide a huge boost for Scotland’s economic future and will be particularly welcomed by the construction and civil engineering sectors,” he said.
“Similarly, improvements in our rail network will provide both benefits to travellers, and a long term boost for our economy. Inclusion of high speed rail highlights our commitment to the Scottish end of the project. We now need Westminster to act and include Scotland in their plans.”
Engineers welcomed the announcement.
“We are delighted that the Scottish Government has taken on board the case that ICE Scotland outlined in its State of the Nation report this summer for prioritisation of capital expenditure for infrastructure development, despite difficult economic circumstances,” said ICE Scotland regional director Jacki Bell.
“In particular we are pleased with the plan to dual the A9 between Perth and Inverness by 2025, with a view to completing dualling of the A96 and the dualled road network between all our cities by 2030. This was a high priority outlined in our report,” he said.
“The idea of a pipeline of programmes and projects lays the foundations for a more structured approach to our infrastructure delivery.”
The Civil Engineering Contractors Association said it admired the way the government had stuck to its manifesto pledges.
“The publication of this plan is welcomed by Scotland’s civil engineering contractors, at a time at which welcome news is at a premium,” said CECA Scotland chief executive Alan Watt.
“CECA admires the way that the Scottish Government has stuck to its manifesto pledges despite the economic backdrop and is determined to invest all it can in infrastructure.
“We are also aware that it developed a series of ‘shovel ready’ projects for swift investment if there is any underspend within its budget, and these will also provide further welcome opportunities for a contracting sector that is working with the Scottish Government to maintain businesses and jobs.”