Infrastructure investment is central to the Scottish Government's economic strategy and our vision for a prosperous, fair and well-connected Scotland. I am delighted to introduce this plan, which builds on the achievements delivered through our previous infrastructure plans and sets out a refreshed programme of long-term investment.
Our investment decisions are guided by the vision set out in the Programme for Government and directed towards the priorities of delivering sustainable economic growth through increasing competitiveness and tackling inequality, managing the transition to a lower carbon economy, enhancing public services, and supporting employment and opportunity across Scotland.
This plan complements the Scottish Draft Budget, published in parallel today. It has been finalised in the context of the recent UK Spending Review and continuing engagement with the UK Government about further fiscal devolution, including the expansion of the Scottish Government's borrowing powers.
The Chancellor's pursuit of austerity through choice rather than necessity has required the Scottish Government to respond creatively in the way it supports infrastructure development. Since the last Infrastructure Investment Plan was published in 2011, the Scottish Government has maximised investment in infrastructure through a combination of conventional capital funding, an ambitious programme of revenue-funded infrastructure, a range of innovative finance initiatives and by using the limited capital borrowing powers available from 2015-16 through the Scotland Act 2012. We have seen the benefits of our approach reflected in Scotland's labour market and in the development of our asset base.
The Scottish economy has now grown in each and every quarter of the last three years - the longest period of uninterrupted growth since 2001. Recently, Scottish growth has been particularly driven by the construction sector, reinforced to a large extent by public infrastructure investment. Our investment strategy needs to evolve to reflect that. We need to invest in ways that foster inclusive growth, because inequality threatens the long-term sustainability of our economy. We need to increase our competiveness and productivity, through support to business and by making Scotland an attractive place to live and work. We need to invest in ways that will help us tackle the challenges presented by climate change and equip our public services to meet the demands of the future and support the process of reform.
This plan aims to meet these challenges across a diverse range of programmes and by delivering the following key commitments on:
- transport - we will complete the upgrading of our road connections between all our cities to dual carriageway, have an efficient rail and road network and further invest in all travel modes to allow Scotland's people to make informed choices on the carbon impacts of their travel and to ensure opportunities for everyone to contribute to a successful economy;
- digital - we will continue our commitment to world class digital infrastructure through to 2020 and beyond, ensuring that Scotland is an attractive place in which to invest and that digital infrastructure improvements in rural and remote areas keep pace with the rest of the country;
- energy and energy efficiency - we will create a new, overarching energy strategy to create a firm, long-term basis for energy investment in Scotland which will be a core element of the next stage of the Scottish Government's approach to supporting the long-term decarbonisation of the energy system. This plan confirms energy efficiency as a national infrastructure priority, and sets out further details about Scotland's Energy Efficiency Programme;
- water - we will continue to deliver improvements to drinking water quality, protecting the environment and reducing leakage;
- waste - we will focus on changing to a more circular economy where goods and materials are kept in use for as long as possible extracting the maximum value from them whilst in use;
- rural economy and communities - we will increase the Scottish Land Fund to promote and encourage communities to acquire assets to ensure Scotland's land works to the benefit of the people of Scotland, by contributing to both the prosperity and sustainable development of the nation;
- health - we will invest to support our 2020 Vision for health in Scotland, developing community infrastructure to support integrated health and care services, delivering new diagnostic and treatment centres to meet increasing demands, while maintaining and enhancing our existing estate;
- education - we will provide necessary capital investment to deliver the commitment to expand early learning and childcare facilities by 2020 and we will continue the successful Scotland's Schools for the Future programme; and
- housing - we will work with our partners to deliver our aim of 50,000 new, high quality, affordable homes to meet requirements for a growing and ageing population, including the needs of those on lower incomes; boost purpose-built homes for private renting; continue market support through shared equity approaches; and take forward further plans with partners to help address the development, financing, infrastructure and collaboration issues constraining increased housing supply.
This plan sets out why we need to invest, how we will invest and what strategic, large scale investments we intend to take forward within each sector over the next 20 years.
We continue to live in an environment where there are many competing pressures and challenges which impact on investment decisions. We will seek to prioritise infrastructure investment based on our guiding principles of:
1. delivering sustainable economic growth through increasing competitiveness and tackling inequality;
2. managing the transition to a more resource efficient, lower carbon economy;
3. supporting delivery of efficient and high quality public services; and
4. supporting employment and opportunity across Scotland.
This is a consultative plan. Next year, subject to the outcome of the Scottish Parliament election, we will undertake a Scottish Spending Review, informed by the outcome of the fiscal framework negotiations. We will continue to make the case that Scotland should have at its disposal the widest possible set of powers to grow and sustain our economy. I would welcome views from across Scotland about the approach set out in this plan, which will inform the future development of our infrastructure investment strategy.
Cabinet Secretary for Infrastructure, Investment and Cities