Scottish Government sets out £24bn infrastructure investment plan

The Scottish Government has published a five-year infrastructure investment plan which it said will support tens of thousands of jobs and help stimulate a green economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.

Covering the five years from 2021-22 to 2025-26, the £24 billion Draft Infrastructure Investment Plan (IIP) includes investment to decarbonise business, industry and buildings, the provision of new health facilities and schools and support for manufacturing innovation.

On housing, there is a place to invest over £2.8bn in direct capital grant funding, over five 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.

The IIP also places a new emphasis on enhancing and finding new uses for existing infrastructure before embarking on new projects.

The draft IIP includes:

  • more than £8bn for environmental sustainability and the transition to net zero emissions, including £250 million to support 18,000 hectares of forestry and restoring peatlands
  • almost £5bn boosting inclusive economic growth, including £500m to extend full fibre broadband to businesses and households in rural areas and £30m for the National Islands Plan
  • more than £11bn for our cities, towns, villages and rural areas, including £275m to revitalise town centres and nearly £2bn on health infrastructure and equipment

Further projects will be added to the draft IIP when their procurement plans are sufficiently advanced. It may also be possible to bring more schemes forward after the UK Government publishes its Comprehensive Spending Review, which will clarify the Scottish Government’s budget for future capital investment.

Unveiling the draft plan in a statement to the Scottish Parliament yesterday, infrastructure secretary Michael Matheson said: “In 2018 our National Infrastructure Mission committed to boost sustainable economic growth by increasing annual investment in infrastructure by £1.5bn by the end of the next Parliament.

“This Plan makes good on that commitment, turning our green economic recovery into reality and helping to support 45,000 jobs

“It is a national strategy driven by the needs of our villages, towns and cities and will deliver benefits to communities across the country.

“We are living in turbulent times and it is essential that government shows leadership and provides stability and certainty. The Draft IIP provides a robust pipeline of work that will help stimulate a green recovery and offer high quality, sustainable jobs in all parts of Scotland.”

Also published yesterday was Investing for Jobs: Capital Spending Review Framework 2021-22 to 2025-26, which outlines how the spending plans contained in the NIM and Draft IIP are affordable, prudent and realistic. Detailed capital budget allocations will be set out later, likely alongside the Scottish Budget 2021-22.

WWF Scotland head of policy, Fabrice Leveque, warned that the plan lacks the ambitious forward momentum needed to get Scotland to net zero and meet its 2030 climate targets.

He said: “We welcome the Scottish Government’s focus on a green recovery and green jobs, and were pleased to see inclusion of nature and biodiversity for the first time alongside climate in the Government’s economic strategy. The inclusion of natural infrastructure is a welcome move to put nature at the heart of decision making.”

Mr Leveque added: “It is disappointing to see the Scottish Government ignoring the advice of the National Infrastructure Commission by continuing road capacity expansion, instead of prioritising investment in active travel and other zero-emissions transport. We hope to see more detail of how the rest of the £2bn allocated to low-carbon investments will be spent in the upcoming budget.”