A National Mission with Local Impact - draft infrastructure investment plan 2021‑2022 to 2025‑2026: consultation

We are consulting on this Draft Infrastructure Investment Plan which covers the financial years 2021-2022 to 2025-2026 and outlines a coherent approach to delivering our National Infrastructure Mission and demonstrates the vital role infrastructure has to play in enabling inclusive, net zero and sustainable growth.

Executive Summary

Scotland aims to deliver a wellbeing economy. That means ensuring society thrives economically, socially and environmentally, and that we deliver sustainable and inclusive growth for all. Making the right investments in the right places is crucial.

Delivering our National Infrastructure Mission

Analysts[1] have shown that investment in infrastructure can provide a significant boost to the Scottish economy. That is why, in 2018, the First Minister committed to our National Infrastructure Mission to increase annual investment by 1% of 2017 Scottish Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by end of next Parliament.

We are the first part of the UK to commit to such unprecedented growth to meet the level of investment of our international competitors. This will support tens of thousands of jobs and is estimated to simulate the Scottish economy by between £10 and £25 billion over the next 15 years.

Our high level Capital Spending Review Framework[2], published alongside this draft plan, sets out how we will ensure sufficient investment to deliver the National Infrastructure Mission. The Capital Spending Review Framework and the Infrastructure Investment Plan, once finalised, will provide a strong and coherent framework for directing, analysing, shaping, and prioritising future commitments.

Alongside building and maintaining infrastructure, our capital investment supports the economic growth we want to see by investing directly in businesses to boost innovation and employment, funding research and development, and capitalising the Scottish National Investment Bank.

This draft Infrastructure Investment Plan puts more flesh on the bones and sets out what we are doing with those capital funds spent on infrastructure. It provides a strategic picture of Scottish Government-wide priorities across financial years 2021‑22 to 2025‑26. It is draft because we are taking the opportunity to consult on some key aspects before the Plan is finalised, later this year.

Building on the Infrastructure Commission for Scotland Recommendations

To support delivery of the National Infrastructure Mission, Scottish Ministers established an independent Infrastructure Commission for Scotland. The Commission started work in 2019 and has reported its findings in two phases: Phase 1 recommendations on the right ambition, vision and strategic priorities, published in January 2020; and Phase 2 advice on how infrastructure is delivered. This advice was published in July 2020 and we will respond formally to those recommendations at a later date.

This plan focusses on adopting and building on the recommendations of the Commission in its Phase 1 report. It sets out our long term vision for Scottish infrastructure, shows how we will choose the right future investments, and sets out a 5 year programme of further improvements in our approach.

Our Infrastructure supports Scotland’s resilience and enables inclusive, net zero, and sustainable growth

What we will deliver

In delivering this vision, the draft Infrastructure Investment Plan will focus on three core strategic themes for guiding investment decisions in Scotland:

  • Enabling the transition to net zero emissions and environmental sustainability
  • Driving inclusive economic growth
  • Building resilient and sustainable places

These themes link directly to Scotland’s National Performance Framework: our overall purpose and national outcomes to support Scotland’s wellbeing. Consistent with our international outlook, they also match the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

The Infrastructure Investment Plan offers a strong contribution to the Government’s response to the COVID-19 crisis. It is closely linked to the development of the next National Planning Framework – which will support delivery of this Plan by shaping the geographic distribution of development and infrastructure – and the Climate Change Plan, which will be updated later this year to incorporate green recovery proposals.

Our draft Plan highlights those investments the Scottish Government delivers itself or through its own agencies and non‑departmental public bodies. It does not cover investments by the UK Government or the private sector, nor by Councils, recognising their independence. Some of our key investments include:

Enabling the transition to net zero emissions and environmental sustainability

  • Over £500 million will be invested over 5 years in active travel
  • Investing £1.6 billion over the next five years to decarbonise heat in buildings, including £55 million new investment in energy efficiency and £95 million programme to decarbonise the public sector estate.
  • Investing up to £75 million to improve local authority recycling collection infrastructure, accelerate the landfill gas capture and improve waste data through electronic waste tracking.
  • Increasing forest cover, reaching 18,000 hectares of new woodland in 2024‑25 as part of a £350 million programme

Driving inclusive economic growth

  • Strengthening connectivity through the £600 million Reaching 100% (R100) programme that will ensure people in every part of Scotland have access to superfast broadband by end 2021.
  • Doubling investment in bridge and roads maintenance, enhancing safety with a programme of around £1.5 billion over 5 years
  • Stimulating innovation and our international attractiveness by concluding our £75 million investment in the National Manufacturing Institute Scotland
  • Investing £525 million to deliver the next five years of £5 billion city region and regional growth deals.
  • £30 million in delivering the National Islands Plan, supporting a range of areas, including tourism, infrastructure, innovation, energy transition and skills.

Building resilient and sustainable places

  • Investing £275 million to support community-led regeneration and town centre revitalisation as part of a new Place Based Investment Programme
  • Invest over £2.8 billion in direct capital grant funding, over 5 years, to deliver more affordable and social homes, continuing to ensure the right types of homes in the right places reflecting and supporting Local Housing Strategies and regional development priorities.
  • Scottish Water is planning to invest over £4 billion in the next charge control period 2021‑27 to maintain and improve services across Scotland, address the challenges of its aging asset base, and make progress towards the achievement of its commitment to net zero emissions by 2040.
  • Together with Councils, fund an ambitious £2 billion Learning Estate Improvement Programme, using an outcomes based revenue finance approach.
  • Invest over £220 million in the Baird and Anchor project in Aberdeen and deliver a £300 million programme of investment to expedite completion of our elective care centres
  • Invest £25 million in the system development required to build on the 50‑fold increase in patient use of NearMe digital healthcare services.

Scottish Government defines infrastructure more widely than some parts of the UK, including digital and social infrastructure for example. The Infrastructure Commission worked with this definition in their Phase 1 report and recommended we newly add ‘natural infrastructure’. We are consulting in this draft plan on that recommendation.

Infrastructure is:

“The physical and technical facilities and other fundamental systems necessary for the economy to function and to enable, sustain or enhance societal living conditions.

These include the networks, connections and storage relating to the enabling infrastructure of transport, energy, water, telecoms, digital and internet, to permit the ready movement of people, goods and services.

They include the built environment of housing; public infrastructure such as education, health, justice and cultural facilities; safety enhancement such as waste management or flood prevention; and public services such as emergency services and resilience.”

Responding to COVID-19 and long‑term trends

Our draft plan responds to the significant near‑term challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, recognising the profound impact the virus has had on our whole way of life. This has impacted on all of our communities and people, but particularly those who were most at risk to start with. Infrastructure has a vital role to play in helping businesses and communities to adapt and recover.

Alongside the harmful consequences of COVID-19, we have seen a number of positive shifts as people’s lives became home‑based, for example towards active travel or to make more use of digital services. Our draft Plan highlights our response, including:

  • Investing in digital connectivity to help businesses and users wherever they live and work, and accelerating digital service provision, reducing the need to travel
  • Supporting safe active travel and local, accessible public services in vibrant places
  • Supporting green and blue spaces to provide access to nature
  • Supporting positive social change such as new approaches to rehabilitation, and reduced homelessness
  • Whilst not all is infrastructure, we will invest in job‑creation to preserve and generate employment to support economic recovery.

Infrastructure investment provides assets for the long term. Consequently, we need to consider in our planning those long term trends that affect the nature of the infrastructure needed, whether due to climate, technological or demographic change. This draft plan sets out the nature of those trends, and highlights the key adjustments in our investment approach that will be required to respond well:

  • Climate – adapting to climate change as well as mitigating emissions
  • Technology – enhancing digital services and platforms; and increasing support for data handling and storage
  • Demography – meeting the needs of a greater share of older people in our population; focusing services and homes where people choose to live; and regenerating areas of working‑age population decline.

A new common investment hierarchy

The Scottish Government has also accepted the Infrastructure Commission recommendation to develop an ‘investment hierarchy’ which prioritises enhancing and maintaining our existing assets over new build. This is needed to protect our environment, and ensure value for money.

We propose a new Scottish Government‑wide common hierarchy to aid planning and decision-making. We are consulting on the details in this draft Plan, as the hierarchy will drive future investment choices.

In practice, the hierarchy means that each step would need to be considered, in turn, before deciding the right new approach. For example, something new might only be built if there is still a demonstrable service need for a facility, and an existing asset can’t be re-purposed. In future, a higher proportion of investment is likely to be directed towards the initial steps in the hierarchy than in previous years. As part of that we will be addressing backlogs by working towards doubling investment in maintenance and asset enhancement over the next 5 years.

New Scottish Government Investment Hierarchy

1. Determine future need

Consider appropriate infrastructure provision in light of changes in service design, availability of digital platforms and technological innovation, and resilience in light of population and climate change forecasts.

2. Maximise use of existing assets

Maximise use and the safe operation of exiting assets to meet future need

3. Repurpose & Co-locate

Reconfigure or repurpose existing assets, giving preference to co-location or shared facilities where appropriate

4. Replace or New Build

Consider suitability and sustainability of new build assets to meet future need

Our Infrastructure Investment Plan 2021‑22 2025‑26 – At A Glance


Our infrastructure supports Scotland’s resilience and enables inclusive, net zero, and sustainable growth


  • A coherent, strategic plan – based on long-term trends across 3 Themes under a common Vision
  • Consistent portfolio coverage from 2021-22 to 2025-26 – matching National Infrastructure Mission delivery
  • A new common investment hierarchy – enhancing and maintaining existing assets ahead of new build
  • Based on outcomes, not inputs – with a 5 year programme of improvements in our assessment framework
  • Promoting meaningful public engagement

Consult on

  • The inclusion of natural infrastructure within the Scottish Government definition of infrastructure
  • How we should prioritise – the common investment hierarchy approach
  • How we should prioritise – how we best assess the potential benefits and impact of proposed infrastructure
  • How we might best assess the carbon impact of future Infrastructure Investment Plans

Three themes

Enabling Net Zero Emissions and Environmental Sustainability

Emissions Reduction

  • Decarbonising transport
  • Supporting Active Travel
  • Decarbonising heat & boosting the energy efficiency of buildings
  • Decarbonising industry

Supporting a circular economy

Boosting Resilience & Adaptation

  • Adapting to change at our coasts
  • Flood risk management

Investing in our Natural Capital

  • Woodland creation
  • Peatland restoration
Driving Inclusive Economic Growth

Strengthening Connectivity and digital services

  • Full fibre broadband and 5G
  • A safe, sustainable, integrated and resilient strategic transport system

Boosting Competitiveness

  • Strategic tourism investments
  • Manufacturing & Innovation

Inclusion and Growth

  • City and Regional Growth Deals
  • Additional transport links alongside the Deals
  • Improve outcomes for island communities
Building Resilient and Sustainable Places

Better Local Places:

  • Community-led Regeneration
  • Town Centres
  • Digital planning

Suitable, Warm, Affordable Homes

High Quality Social Infrastructure

  • Digital health
  • Enhanced local & elective health services, to reduce acute need
  • Learning Estate Investment Programme
  • New Justice facilities
  • Improving our water and waste water infrastructure


Email: InfrastructureInvestmentStrategy@gov.scot

Back to top