With COVID-19, curfews and local lockdowns largely dominating headlines, the Scottish Government has quietly published its £24bn draft Infrastructure Investment Plan (IIP) after a parliamentary announcement by Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity, Michael Matheson MSP. The IIP aims to support 45,000 jobs and stimulate a green economic recovery from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic over the next 5 years.
In setting out a clear vision for the future of infrastructure in Scotland, the IIP intends to support and enable an inclusive net zero emissions economy. This vision is reinforced by three core themes: enabling the transition to net zero emissions and environmental sustainability; driving inclusive economic growth; and building resilient and sustainable places.
The IIP features investments that will be delivered by the Scottish Government itself, its agencies or non-departmental public bodies. Investments delivered by the UK Government, private sector or local councils are not included, recognising their independence from the Scottish Government.
The IIP details the projects and programmes where their business cases and procurement plans are sufficiently advanced to be regarded as confirmed decisions. However, it is expected that additional projects will be added to the IIP once their procurement plans are more fully detailed, and the outcome of the forthcoming UK Government’s spending review is known. Some of the key confirmed investments are highlighted below:
Enabling the transition to net zero emissions and environmental sustainability
- £1.6bn to decarbonise heat in buildings;
- £350m programme to increase forest cover by 18,000 hectares of new woodland by 2024-25; and
- £75m to improve local authority recycling collection infrastructure.
Delivering inclusive economic growth
- £600m strengthening connectivity through the Reaching 100% Programme which will ensure that people in every part of Scotland have access to superfast broadband;
- £1.5bn investment in bridges and roads maintenance to enhance safety;
- Completing the National Manufacturing Institute Scotland to stimulate innovation and international attractiveness; and
- £525m in delivering the next 5 years of the ongoing £5bn city region and regional growth deals.
Building resilient and sustainable places
- £2.8bn in direct capital grant funding to deliver affordable and social homes;
- £275m for community-led regeneration and town centre revitalisation;
- £4b by Scottish Water to maintain and improve services across Scotland and address its ageing asset base; and
- £2bn in partnership with local councils to fund the Learning Estate Improvement Programme.
In responding to COVID-19, the IIP intends to proactively address the economic, health and social impacts that the pandemic has caused across Scotland. Through significant investment in digital connectivity, businesses and home working will be bolstered by a much-needed improved digital service provision. The IIP also highlights how COVID-19 has brought into focus the need for investment in safe active travel zones, and local accessible outdoor public spaces as a result of the profound impact on day to day life the pandemic has caused.
Infrastructure Commission for Scotland
Earlier this year, the Infrastructure Commission for Scotland published its first report and recommendations for the future of infrastructure in Scotland. The IIP accepts the Commission’s recommendations and details how they will be implemented. The IIP also delivers Scotland’s National Infrastructure Mission commitment to increasing annual infrastructure investment by 1% of 2017 Scottish GDP by the end of the next Parliamentary term.
The IIP has also accepted the Infrastructure Commission’s recommendation to develop an investment hierarchy which favours enhancing and maintaining existing assets over the constructing of new assets and facilities.
Currently, the IIP remains in draft form and will be finalised later in 2020 after the consultation window closes on 19 November 2020. Views are being sought on:
- The inclusion of natural infrastructure
- How to prioritise - the common investment hierarchy approach
- How to best assess the impact of proposed infrastructure
- How to best assess the carbon impact of future plans.
The full report and consultation can be accessed here.