Michael Matheson MSP
Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity
Infrastructure investment touches the lives of every person in Scotland – from the homes we live in and the water, energy and telecommunication we consume, to how we travel to the places we work, shop and learn.
As we tackle the economic, health and social harm arising from COVID-19, infrastructure will have a key role to play in securing a recovery that delivers new, good, green jobs. To address the adversity of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the adjustments required to the new trade arrangements of the UK's exit from the European Union, it is vital that we act now to invest in Scotland's future.
We need the ability to respond quickly and comprehensively to boost the economy in the light of the COVID-19 pandemic. We need to think differently about wider changes to the ways in which we do business and conduct our lives, for example to boost new, high quality digital services. We must also recognise the role that our infrastructure investment will have in the transition to a net zero emissions economy and ending Scotland's contribution to climate change.
This time last year, the Infrastructure Commission for Scotland made recommendations about the right future infrastructure priorities for an inclusive, net zero carbon economy in Scotland. In light of COVID-19 and Brexit, the Commission's approach is even more needed than before. This Plan accepts their recommendations. I show here how we will implement them in consultation with industry, delivery partners and the people of Scotland.
Given the breadth and depth of the Commission's recommendations, during autumn 2020 we consulted on a draft version of this Plan to explore questions relating to certain aspects of infrastructure planning such as our definition of infrastructure, the priority we place on maintaining existing assets and how best to assess the full range of outcomes that infrastructure can deliver. With thanks to all 147 respondents, we welcomed the positive reaction our plans received. In particular the support for our proposal to have the widest definition of infrastructure in UK – and many parts of the world – by including natural infrastructure.
Our Infrastructure Investment Plan covers 2021-22 to 2025-26 and delivers our National Infrastructure Mission commitment to boost economic growth by increasing annual investment in infrastructure by 1% of 2017 Scottish GDP by 2025-26. When the First Minister announced the National Infrastructure Mission in 2018, we were the first part of the UK to commit to overcome historically lower levels of UK investment, seeking to reach internationally competitive levels.
There is now, more than ever, a need for the UK Government to agree increased fiscal flexibilities for the Scottish Government so that we can take advantage of historically low cost borrowing to invest for Scotland's future. This is even more important with the UK Government's Spending Review in November 2020 having failed to provide clarity on funding for future years at this critical time. In the absence of that certainty, we are setting out our plans now because we firmly believe action is required now to support our economy and public services.
The National Infrastructure Mission means over £33 billion of Scottish Government investment over the course of the next Parliamentary term. Our Capital Spending Review, published alongside this Plan, sets out how we will ensure sufficient investment to deliver the National Infrastructure Mission. The Capital Spending Review and the Infrastructure Investment Plan together provide a strong and coherent framework for directing, analysing, shaping, and prioritising future commitments.
This Infrastructure Investment Plan shows where the capital invested in infrastructure will go. It covers projects which Scottish Government or its agencies and non-departmental public bodies (NDPBs) deliver directly, such as boosting our digital and transport connectivity, reducing the reliance of our homes on fossil fuels, boosting economic growth across our cities and regions, or improving our services with better health and educational facilities.
I am delighted that this Infrastructure Investment Plan details over £26 billion of major projects and large programmes that are ready to be confirmed now, including those deploying revenue finance. Looking ahead, we will show how future projects which have progressed beyond the planning stage and into delivery will join our pipeline.
We launched through the 2020 Programme for Government our National Mission for Jobs and we have committed to a wide range of actions to support the economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic through our Economic Recovery Implementation Plan. Infrastructure investment will be key to their success.
This Plan offers the market confidence in a robust pipeline of work that will help stimulate Scotland's economy. Annually, around 45,000 construction and maintenance jobs will be supported through the total capital investment of the next five years. It is also good for green jobs and stimulating a low carbon economic recovery.
This Infrastructure Investment Plan sets out a clear vision for our future infrastructure – to support and enable an inclusive net zero emissions economy. Underpinning this vision are three themes: enabling net zero emissions and environmental sustainability; driving inclusive economic growth; and building resilient and sustainable places. These also complement the Missions of the Scottish National Investment Bank.
Our vision can provide huge opportunities for Scotland's people. We want to build a Scotland that harnesses opportunities and is resilient to future challenges. We will drive innovation, create good, sustainable jobs and support a just and fair transition and wellbeing outcomes.
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