Flagship infrastructure projects ‘face decade of delays’

Key infrastructure projects across Scotland worth billions of pounds to the economy face cumulative delays of more than a decade, it has emerged.

In an update on its major capital projects yesterday, the Scottish Government revealed that a dozen scrucial developments such as hospitals, roads, rail and a new prison had been hit by further setbacks since a previous update earlier this year.

Work to ease congestion at the Haudagain roundabout has been delayed a year

The delays include a setback of at least six months for the new HMP Highland prison in Inverness from the spring of 2021 to October of that year. The cost has also increased from £73.9 million to £80.5m.

The estimated date for finishing work on a new link road to ease congestion at the notorious Haudagain roundabout had been moved from 2020 to 2021.

“This is due to one of the two bidders withdrawing from the competition and therefore the competition has been closed and procurement is progressing under a new procedure,” the report said.

Elsewhere, Edinburgh’s state-of-the-art £230m Royal Hospital for Sick Children has been held up by at least 17 months, with the NHS unable to put a definitive date on its opening, while completion of work to dual the A9 from Luncarty to the Pass of Birnam has also been delayed from 2020 to 2021.

The report also confirmed delays of two years for electrification of the Stirling, Dunblane and Alloa rail project, and a further two years for the Edinburgh-Glasgow rail improvement programme.

Scottish Conservatives shadow finance secretary Murdo Fraser said the cumulative delays to 12 major schemes across Scotland added up to more than ten years.

He added: “It’s understandable that there will always be the odd delay to major projects, which can occur for a range of issues. But under the SNP this appears to have become the norm.

“And even when projects are finished on time, like the Queensferry Crossing, it seems beset by problems afterwards due to a rushed approach to get over the line.

“Within these new delays there are some serious projects which make a material difference to people’s lives, not least the new sick kids’ hospital in Edinburgh.

“As ever with the SNP, warm words are not backed up by action, and the result of that is a decade of delays on key infrastructure projects.”

The report follows transport secretary Michael Matheson’s recently confirmation that there was no “definitive date” for the opening for the new £745m Aberdeen bypass.

A spokesman for the minister said: “It’s good of the Tories to highlight just some examples of the extraordinary number of capital projects the SNP government is investing in across Scotland.

“They didn’t mention the projects which were completed well ahead of schedule under this government, such as the M74 extension, nor did they acknowledge their own failure to deliver on many of these projects during their decades in power – most notably with the AWPR, which was first mooted in the 1940s but is only now becoming a reality under the SNP.”