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by Louise Wilson
04 February 2021
£33bn infrastructure investment plan published

Trunk roads will be upgraded to adapt to climate change impacts like flooding | PA Images

£33bn infrastructure investment plan published

The Scottish Government has published its infrastructure investment plan, backed by £33bn over the course of the next parliament.

Infrastructure secretary Michael Matheson told the Scottish Parliament it would help Scotland meet its climate ambitions and recover from COVID-19 recession.

A new definition of infrastructure has been adopted by the plan to include digital and social infrastructure, such as housing, one of the “widest definitions” in the world, Matheson said.

The plan includes an investment hierarchy which puts the maintenance of Scotland’s existing infrastructure ahead of new projects as part of efforts to reach net zero emissions.

Matheson said: “Our overall focus is on driving inclusive economic growth, the transition to net zero, and building resilient and sustainable places.

“This package of significant investment will support economic confidence in every corner of Scotland and send out a clear message that we will continue to do all we can to secure our recovery from coronavirus.

“In the process we will also be supporting over 45,000 jobs and building a strong future for Scotland.”

The cabinet secretary also confirmed £110m would be invested in digital public services, £50m in active freeways and £60m to ensure the trunk road network is adapted to meet the effects of climate change.

However, the Scottish Conservatives infrastructure spokesperson Graham Simpson said the funding announced was not “adequate” to meet the challenges of economic recovery.

He said: “The capital spending does not feel adequate or ambitious enough to rebound and rebuild Scotland’s economy from the deepest recession on record, showing this government is tired and out of transformative ideas.”

Scottish Labour’s Colin Smyth criticised the lack of “shovel-ready” projects included in the plan.

He said: “It is disappointing to see there are planned cuts in capital spending in crucial areas such as rail and local government in the year ahead, and so few projects that appear to be shovel-ready to kickstart the economy.”

Concerns were also raised about the government’s record on delivering major projects, including the delayed and overbudget ferries for CalMac and the problems with the new Edinburgh children’s hospital.

Matheson said: “We always make sure that we look at what lessons can be learned from major infrastructure investment projects.”

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