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Green-tinged Scottish budget promises more for planning

Words: Roger Milne
Money / iStock-185267728

This week’s Scottish Budget proposals featured a package of funding that ministers insisted would accelerate the country’s transition to a net-zero economy with £1.8 billion of investment in low-carbon infrastructure and measures.

This included an investment of £270 million to boost rail services, £220 million for seeding the Scottish National Investment Bank, an extra £5 million for active travel, and more than £64 million to help meet the commitment to plant 12,000 hectares of woodland.

A further £20 million will go towards peatland recovery and a new £120 million so-called Heat Transition Deal, which will be included in a total investment of £151 million in energy efficiency.

An £83 million Future Transport Fund will target initiatives like low-emission and electric buses and electric-charging infrastructure.

The Budget will see £201 million allocated for city region and growth deals. This should be enough to deliver the outcomes agreed for Glasgow, Aberdeen, Inverness and Edinburgh, secure fully agreed city region deals for Stirling and Clackmannanshire and for the Tay Cities Region as well as growth deals for the Ayrshires and the Borderlands.

Discussions on growth deals for Moray, Argyll and Bute, Falkirk and the Islands will continue.

Development of a Scotland-wide network of so-called Regional Economic Partnerships is also planned, modelled on the foundations laid by the city deals.

On housing, the Budget report, published on 6 February, pledged to commit over £800 million as part of total investment of over £3 billion to deliver 50,000 affordable homes, including 35,000 for social rent, over the five years of this Parliament.

Motorways and trunk road spending will fall from £833.1 million to £748.9 million while expenditure on digital connectivity will increase from £32.9 million to £63.4 million.

The report committed the government to implementing the Planning (Scotland) Act during 2020/21, publishing a digital strategy for planning and increasing government spending on planning and building standards from £9.5 million in 2019/20 to £12.4 million over the coming financial year.

Ministers have agreed to bring forth a series of key blueprints during the next year for an environment strategy, a national transport delivery strategy and an infrastructure investment plan.

The administration has promised to make available an additional £2 billion of new infrastructure investment over the next parliamentary term for measures to support the delivery of the government’s climate change plan.

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