Chapter 5: Theme 2: Driving Inclusive Economic Growth
Some achievements from our last, 2015 Infrastructure Investment Plan
- Invested £463 million in the Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband programme – where over 97.8 % of premises are now able to access fibre broadband.
- Completed the £858 million Edinburgh to Glasgow Improvement Programme, which comprised a comprehensive programme of improvements to railway infrastructure and rolling stock.
Scottish Ministers have set an ambitious goal to reach the same economic performance as those OECD nations in the top quartile. Not all of that can be delivered through infrastructure, but it has a key role to play.
Boosting our international and country-wide digital connectivity and capacity, particularly in rural areas, can help boost Scotland's productivity and competitiveness. According to the World Economic Forum the UK ranks 31st in the world for the quality and adoption of its digital networks. While there is no separate data for Scotland, our investment aims to position us amongst the higher ranked.
By World Economic Forum rankings, the UK is 11th in the world for the quality and timeliness of its transport systems. Whilst there is no separate data for Scotland, Scotland has been ranked as being the best connected large region in Europe and benefits from strong connectivity across a range of transport modes. Through enhancing our transport infrastructure, focusing on a safe and resilient strategic transport network which also contributes to net zero and inclusive economic growth, we can boost Scotland's productivity and competitiveness, increase trade and inward investment.
We will stimulate innovation, including in manufacturing, to boost our international competitiveness, support construction with a strong pipeline of work and ensure Scottish businesses and supply chains can capitalise on our investment in low carbon. This can help support the creation of good jobs.
Whilst our tourism industry has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, we will pave the way for it to return even stronger when conditions are more favourable.
We will embed fairness and inclusion, addressing the drivers of poverty and seeking to ensure no-one is left behind. We will do this in a range of ways, for example, by investing in the right strategic projects for every part of Scotland to aid city and regional growth; and through our investment in bus infrastructure, tackling poor energy efficiency, and addressing rural and island digital connectivity.
If we are successful, we would expect this plan to help us make progress towards our ambitious child poverty targets. Our spatial plan, set out in National Planning Framework 4 later this year, informed by emerging Regional Spatial Strategies and taken forward through Local Development Plans, will underpin a fair geographic distribution of investment.
Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband programme
Cinecosse is an award winning film and multimedia company based in rural Aberdeenshire. Owner, Graeme Mowat, has described how his business has benefited from faster broadband and a reliable internet connection as a result of the Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband programme.
From previously very low speeds, Cinecosse is now able to access speeds of up to 69.8 download/20.1 Mbps through fibre enabled broadband. This has helped his company to remain relevant with clients across the globe and adapt successfully to client needs.
Improved online access has allowed Cinecosse to promote what they do through their own website. To keep up with the increased demand, Cinecosse has expanded to creating interactive media and offers media training. Day-to-day running of the office has also been made easier with improved online access and a move to digital HR and payroll applications.
Science Skills Academy, Inverness and Highland Region Deal
The Science Skills Academy, funded through the Inverness and Highland City Region Deal, is inspiring children and young people across the Highlands to become engaged with the core STEM subjects, transforming STEM education through a network of Newton Rooms – Scandinavian-style learning hubs.
Newton Rooms in Thurso, Dingwall and Fort William are operational, with plans in place for further hubs, including in Inverness and pop-up sites across the region, ensuring quality STEM delivery and accessibility across the region, regardless of how remote and rural a school may be.
Since the Academy launched, over 4,000 participants have interacted with the project; whilst the focus is to reach primary and secondary school children, they have provided sessions to families and to home educated pupils, trained STEM ambassadors, and have hosted events for local STEM businesses. The Academy is one of five UK Science Centres to have been selected to deliver a new national space programme for families and young people.
|Creating a world-class digital system||We will strengthen digital public services and boost investment in digital transformation by over £110m.
We will invest £25 million in the system development required to build on the 50-fold increase in patient use of NearMe digital healthcare services during COVID-19.
We will support the delivery of the new critical national infrastructure for an Emergency Services Network (ESN) to deliver next generation telecommunications for our emergency services and first responder communities with £122 million. The ESN will also contribute towards the government's wider policy of enhancing mobile coverage through the Shared Rural Network.
|Strengthening connectivity||We will ensure the right connections within Scotland and internationally.
We will strengthen connectivity and providing a future-proofed superfast broadband network by investing over £500 million during the period to complete the R100 programme
We will deliver a safe and sustainable, integrated and resilient strategic transport system, including:
|Boosting competitiveness||We will stimulate innovation and our international attractiveness by:
|Supporting long-term inclusive and sustainable growth||We will invest for growth that benefits all people, rural and urban areas by:
We will invest £30 million in delivering the National Islands Plan, supporting a range of areas, including tourism, infrastructure, innovation, energy transition and skills – informed by our learning of how island communities have responded and adapted to COVID-19. This will include specific ring fenced funding for capital projects on islands relating to net zero and green recovery objectives, creating high quality, skilled, green jobs in some of our most remote and vulnerable communities.
In addition we will invest over £22 million in the Stornoway Growth Accelerator project for enabling infrastructure to provide the catalyst for significant further economic and environmental development.