High profile transport infrastructure proposals will be a critical factor in the post-election horse trading between political parties vying for power in Scotland, it emerged this week.
The Liberal Democrats, Labour and Conservative parties have all said they support the proposed £650M Edinburgh Airport Rail Link (EARL) and plans to build a modern tram system in the capital. However, the Scottish National Party (SNP) opposes both.The Green Party and the Scottish Socialist Party support the tram system but oppose the EARL project, which controversially includes a tunnelled section under the airport runway.Commentators expect no party to achieve a dominant position in the Scottish Parliament in the 3 May elections meaning a coalition or minority administration is on the cards. Although the SNP is leading in the polls it is thought unlikely to win more than 45 of the 129 seats in Parliament. If the SNP gains a majority from Labour it is expected that it would stand its ground on refusing to back the airport rail link but agree to finance the first phase of the tram system. This would allow it to support an alternative scheme to the airport and gain a tram connection to a new rail station on the Fife-Edinburgh line. Whichever party wins a majority, the cancellation of the M74 completion project in Glasgow, currently out to tender, is unlikely. But the scheme is opposed by the Greens and the Socialists, two parties whose support would be critical to a minority SNP administration.The Labour Party and the Liberal Democrats would continue to use a public-private partnership/private finance initiative for many of the next wave of new and refurbished public sector facilities and infrastructure projects. The SNP is strongly against privatisation and has proposed an alternative funding structure.