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High-carbon roads remain the priority in ‘business as usual’ Infrastructure Investment Plan

Published 12 October 2020 by Transform Scotland

Transform policy officer, Marie Ferdelman, presented to members and supporters on the draft Infrastructure Investment Plan (IIP) for Scotland 2021-22 to 2025-26. You can find the full presentation here and view the video of the presentation here.

Marie presented an overview of the transport content in the draft IIP including summarising the low-carbon and high-carbon transport projects. Marie commented that the IIP did not include costings of the significant road-building projects referenced in the plan.

Marie then summarised her commentary on the IIP:

  • There was a stronger focus on climate framing: the commitment to a new investment hierarchy and
    the Infrastructure Commission’s recommendations.
  • Welcome for the continued commitment to previously-announced low-carbon infrastructure projects — but
    also no new investment.
  • However, numerous large-scale road-building projects remain an investment priority despite the new
    investment hierarchy.
  • The list of spending priorities remains the same as it has been for past years, making clear that
    the commitment to more sustainable transport investment appears nothing more than ‘warm words’.
  • There is an almost complete lack of cost estimates for the roads projects.
  • The inconsistency in which projects have been included in IIPs make it nearly impossible to
    compare spending priorities across years and the wide range of projects from committed to
    wishlist projects obscure the purpose of the IIPs.

Source: Scottish Government (April 2020): ‘Infrastructure Investment Plan 2015: programme pipeline update March 2020’.

Delegates expressed their frustration that despite various Scottish Government commitments to climate action, not least the 2019 ‘Climate Emergency’ announcement, that there was little evidence of a systematic switch from high-carbon transport to low-carbon transport investment.

There was also scepticism about whether investment decisions will be followed through upon given the current switches of funding to shore up existing transport services. However, other argued that while this may be the case that the Climate Emergency will still necessitate the switch to low-carbon investment as and when the coronavirus pandemic is brought under control.

There was discussion about the value of responding to the IIP consultation given the limited scope of the questions posed. There was also a broader discussion about investment priorities for sustainable transport.