A National Mission with Local Impact: Infrastructure Investment Plan for Scotland 2021-22 to 2025-26

The Infrastructure Investment Plan outlines a coherent, and strategic approach to delivering our National Infrastructure Mission. The Plan demonstrates the vital role infrastructure has to play in helping businesses and communities to adapt and recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

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

Scottish Government analysts have shown that investment in infrastructure can provide the largest GDP boost of any Scottish Government investment.[1] 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 the end of the 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 thousands of jobs and is estimated to simulate the Scottish economy by between £10 and £25 billion over the next 15 years. 

Our Capital Spending Review,[2] 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.

Alongside 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 Infrastructure Investment Plan sets out what we are doing with those capital funds spent on infrastructure. It provides a strategic picture of Scottish Government-wide priorities across the next five financial years from 2021-22 until 2025-26. 

Consultation Outcome

We consulted on a Draft of this Infrastructure Investment Plan between 24 September and 19 November 2020. This attracted 147 responses from a wide range of interested groups and individuals. An independent analysis of the responses has been prepared and is published separately.[3]

We have reflected upon this feedback and incorporated changes in this Plan where appropriate. The majority of respondents were in favour of the approach set out in the Draft Plan, and we gathered a rich source of information and views that will inform the development of the work that will be undertaken to improve our approach and develop the next Plan in five years. We look forward to further engagement as we develop our approach.

Building on the Infrastructure Commission for Scotland Recommendations 

To support delivery of the National Infrastructure Mission, in early 2019, Scottish Ministers established an independent Infrastructure Commission for Scotland. The Commission reported its findings in two phases: Phase 1 gave recommendations on the right ambition, vision and strategic priorities (published in January 2020) and Phase 2 advice on how infrastructure is delivered was published in July 2020.[4] 

This Plan focuses 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. 

Infrastructure Vision: Our infrastructure supports Scotland's resilience and enables inclusive, net zero and sustainable growth.

What we will deliver

In delivering this vision, the 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. This outcomes-focused approach was strongly supported by 70% of respondents to the consultation on the Draft Plan.

The Infrastructure Investment Plan offers a strong contribution to the Scottish Government's response to the COVID-19 crisis and the ongoing economic challenges we will face as a result of the UK's departure from the European Union. 

This Plan is also closely linked to the development of the Fourth National Planning Framework[5] – which will support delivery of this Plan by shaping the geographic distribution of development and infrastructure, to the update to the Climate Change Plan,[6] published in December 2020, and to the Scottish Government's Economic recovery Implementation Plan[7] which recognised infrastructure investment as fundamental to Scotland's recovery. 

Our Plan highlights those investments the Scottish Government delivers itself or supports through its own agencies and non-departmental public bodies (NDPBs). It does not cover investments by the UK Government or investments made directly by the private sector, nor those delivered solely by Scottish Councils, recognising their independence. 

Our investment in infrastructure is targeted to maximise wider economic benefits and to create opportunities and the right conditions to leverage additional private sector investment across Scotland. Our long-term vision for infrastructure is strongly aligned with our plans on mobilising private investment alongside public investment as a critical part of our economic recovery. The forthcoming 'Investing with Purpose: Scotland's Private Capital Investment Plan' will set out our strategy to attract internationally mobile private capital.

Some of our key investments include:

Enabling the transition to net zero emissions and environmental sustainability

  • £180 million for an Emerging Energy Technologies Fund to support carbon capture and storage (CCS), negative emissions technologies (NETs) and hydrogen development.
  • £150 million extra funding for flood risk management and £12 million for coastal change adaptation to help us adapt to the threat of sea level rises and protect our assets.
  • £60 million to support climate adaptation and resilience in our trunk road network.
  • £50 million in a programme of investment supporting reuse of vacant and derelict land as part of a fair, green recovery.
  • Increasing forest cover, reaching 18,000 hectares of new woodland in 2024-25 as part of a £283 million programme.
  • Over £550 million will be invested over 5 years in active travel, including £50 million dedicated to Active freeways.
  • £120 million of new investment in the transition to net zero electric buses.
  • Investing £1.6 billion over the next five years to decarbonise heat in buildings, supporting our Housing to 2040 vision for Scotland's homes alongside ambitions to decarbonise our non-domestic building stock and public sector estate. This includes £55 million new investment in energy efficiency and £95 million for a net zero emissions public estate programme. 
  • 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.
  • Invest over £1.2 billion in major rail improvements, including £550 million for dedicated rail decarbonisation projects, as well as £3.8 billion on our rail network for passengers and freight.

Driving inclusive economic growth

  • Strengthening connectivity through the £600 million R100 programme.
  • Investing £110 million in Digital Public Services Programme to support the transformation of key public services. 
  • Investing £525 million to deliver the next five years of £5 billion city region and regional growth deals.
  • Doubling investment in bridge and roads maintenance, enhancing safety with a programme of around £1.5 billion over five years.
  • Stimulating innovation and our international attractiveness by concluding our £75 million investment in the National Manufacturing Institute Scotland.
  • Providing £10 million to support the reinstatement of the Cairngorm funicular.

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.
  • Over £3.3 billion is allocated to deliver more affordable and social homes, helping to create great places, and continuing to ensure the right types of homes in the right places to support Local Housing Strategies and regional development priorities.
  • Scottish Water is planning to invest over £4.5 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 Investment Programme, using an outcomes-based revenue finance approach. 
  • Invest over £200 million in the Baird and Anchor project in Aberdeen and deliver a £320 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.
  • A doubling of health maintenance investment totalling £1 billion.

Definition of infrastructure 

  • Scottish Government defines infrastructure more widely than all other 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'.
  • Following consultation on the draft Plan, the vast majority of respondents (95%) supported the inclusion of natural infrastructure.
  • Our definition is set out in the box below.

Infrastructure is:

"The physical and technical facilities, natural 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; natural assets and networks that supply ecosystem services and public services such as emergency services and resilience."

Responding to COVID-19 and long-term trends

Our 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 Plan highlights our response, including:

  • Investing in digital connectivity and digital inclusion to help businesses, workers and service users to accelerate the uptake of digital services and reducing the need to travel.
  • Supporting safe active travel and local, accessible public services in vibrant places to sustain local communities.
  • Supporting green and blue spaces to provide access to nature.
  • Investing in local business opportunities and 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 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; and investing in nature.
  • 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 particularly in rural areas.

A new common investment hierarchy

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

In response to the Commission's suggestions, and taking on board feedback received through the consultation on the Draft Plan, we propose a new Scottish Government-wide common hierarchy to aid planning and decision-making. 

This Plan sets out how we intend to apply and incorporate the hierarchy framework into decision-making processes relating to public sector infrastructure investment over time. 

In practice, the hierarchy means that each step would need to be considered, in turn, before deciding the right 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 repurposed. 

In the 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 five years. 

New Scottish Government Investment Hierarchy

Determine future need

Consider appropriate infrastructure needs and demand in light of net zero carbon and inclusive growth priorities, changes in service design, availability of digital platforms and technological innovation, and resilience in light of population and climate change forecasts.

Maximise the useful life of existing assets

Maximise adaptation, repair and maintenance of existing assets.

Repurpose & Co-locate

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

Replace, Create or Build New Assets

Consider suitability and sustainability of new assets.

Our Infrastructure Investment Plan 2021‑22 To 2025‑26 – At A Glance
Vision 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
  • An expanded infrastructure definition to include Natural Infrastructure.
  • 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
Three themes Enabling Net Zero Emissions and Environmental Sustainability Driving Inclusive Economic Growth Building Resilient and Sustainable Places
More Decarbonising Transport & Supporting Active Travel
  • Reducing the need to travel unsustainably
  • Investing in bus and rail decarbonisation
  • Encouraging a shift to more sustainable modes of transport
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
  • Climate resilient trunk road network
Investing in our Natural Capital
  • Woodland creation
  • Peatland restoration
  • Vacant and derelict Land
A World-Class Digital System
  • New digital public service transformation funding
  • Digital health
  • Emergency Services Network
Strengthening Connectivity 
  • Full fibre broadband
  • A safe, sustainable, integrated and resilient strategic transport system
Boosting Competitiveness 
  • Strategic tourism investments
  • Manufacturing & Innovation
Inclusion and Growth 
  • City and Regional Growth Deals
  • Improving outcomes for island communities
Better Local Places: 
  • 20 minute neighbourhoods
  • Community-led Regeneration
  • Town Centres
  • Digital planning
Suitable, Warm, Affordable Homes High Quality Social Infrastructure
  • Enhanced local & elective health services, to reduce acute need
  • Learning Estate Investment Programme
  • New Justice facilities
  • Improving our water and waste water infrastructure
5 year implementation  plan
  • Develop an infrastructure needs assessment 
  • Develop a new infrastructure assessment and prioritisation framework to meet our net zero and inclusive growth aims
  • Develop an enhanced approach to public engagement and participation in infrastructure investment


Email: InfrastructureInvestmentStrategy@gov.scot

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