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£60m Capital Investment Approved For Roads And Infrastructure In Highland

15th March 2024

Plans to invest up to £60m new Capital in Highland roads and infrastructure have been approved by Members at the Council meeting on 14 March 2024.

The decision will see an additional £40m Capital investment in roads and transport infrastructure. This, on top of the previous three years of increased levels of funding, will bring the total Capital investment in Highland roads over the next 3 years to £65m.

A further £10m of Capital will be invested in Corran Ferry infrastructure to support the delivery of new facilities that can accommodate modern Roll-on/Roll-off ferries. This Capital investment would supplement the agreed reallocation by UK Government of £20m from the Inverness and Highland City Region Deal to fund essential landside infrastructure improvements for the Corran Ferry.

The Council will continue to engage with Scottish Government on a funding solution for a new ferry for the Corran Narrows. In particular, the reprofiling of committed City Region Deal funding to reflect the regional element of the Deal and the deliverability of the pipeline of current projects.

Up to £10m of the remaining Capital is proposed for investment in other Capital projects such as the Council's bus service, to bring improved connectivity for local communities.

Leader of the Council Raymond Bremner said: "Roads are a clear priority for the communities across the Highlands and this has been a theme in feedback from public engagement. With a local road network, many of these lifeline routes, stretching some 6,600km, it is essential that continued funding at previous levels is maintained.

He went on to say: “In addition to the need for significant investment in our roads and infrastructure, we need a major solution for our aging school estate. With this in mind, we will be bringing a ground-breaking investment plan to the May Council, which will lay the foundation for the biggest improvements communities will have ever seen."

Convener Bill Lobban said: “The capital investment in roads will further enhance the significant level of investment over the past 3 years, which is in addition to the roads revenue budget of £35m per year which includes allocations for winter maintenance, roads repairs and engineering services. There are a significant number of schemes across the Highlands that can be brought forward into an agreed programme for roads investment, which will be informed by the allocation formulas being considered through the Council’s Redesign Board.

“Supporting sustainable and resilient communities is at the heart of our Council Programme and our investment plans reflect this commitment.”

Chair of Economy and Infrastructure Ken Gowans said: “£1.6m was set aside to develop plans for new infrastructure on both sides of the Corran Narrows and to develop designs for a new vessel to replace the Maid of Glencoul. That work has progressed well and the need for a sustainable solution to the issue has become critical, given the outages that were experienced over the course of last year and the impact on the local community, not to mention the huge financial impacts for the Council.

“A further £10m on top of the reallocation of City Region Deal money is required to ensure that the project can be delivered and enables the match funding from the UK Government. The design of the infrastructure is well underway and will be ‘shovel ready’ in the first half of 2024. This will allow completion of the project by 2026. In tandem we will continue to engage with the Scottish Government on delivering a new ferry for the communities that rely on this vital service.”

Members also approved the next steps for rationalisation across the Council’s property and non-property assets, in line with the budget agreed at Council on 29 February 2024, and the development of a Corporate Asset Management strategy.

It was also agreed that a report will be brought forward for Member consideration on a Highland Investment Plan, to provide a strategic approach to delivering major capital investment in Council assets across the Highlands, including a strong focus on the school estate.

 

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