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Roads Across Highland To Benefit Over 20 Years From The £2.1bn Highland Investment Plan

2nd July 2024

Photograph of Roads Across Highland To Benefit Over 20 Years From The £2.1bn Highland Investment Plan

Highland Council's £2.1 billion twenty-year investment plan will add significant capital on top of existing and additional new commitments of £50 million for roads and transport infrastructure agreed as part of the 2024 budget setting process.

£63.4m will be spent on roads and infrastructure improvements over the next 3 years. Following this, increases in capital through the Highland Investment Plan should see a further £287m investment to sustain roads and transport infrastructure over 20 years, pending agreement by Council as part of budget setting from 2027 onwards.

Additional to this will be funding to strengthen existing capital commitments to a range of on-going infrastructure needs over the next twenty years, including Roads, Bridges, Street Lighting, Fleet, Plant, Equipment, and other infrastructure including Flood Prevention, Piers, and Harbours.

Leader of the Council Raymond Bremner said: "The planned investment will help to address the on-going challenges we face in maintaining over 4000 miles of Highland roads and sustaining rural communities.

"A long-term investment programme for roads and transportation will ensure a sustainable approach to investment, contractor procurement, and opportunities to attract match funding from developer contributions or other external funding sources. There will also be significant local contracting and business opportunities and wider community economic benefit associated with the delivery of the Investment Plan."

The Roads Operational Areas have already taken their 2023/24 programmes to Area Committee. The programmes were presented to committees before the capital budget allocations were known, so they were based on the 2023/24 base capital figures as an estimate. Areas have presented a list of schemes for their expected budget allocation, with additional ones shown which have not yet been programmed. These are intended to be utilised when the additional funding becomes available or a scheme has to be delayed for operational reasons.

An £8.655m strategic allocation from the 2024-25 budget, will be targeted at a further list of road surface treatment schemes, utilising Engineering judgement and local knowledge to determine which projects were to be included. The project list has been compiled in conjunction with each Road Operations Manager and technical staff, to identify those which they could undertake in 2024/25. A diverse approach was taken, looking at urban and rural localities as well as all classes of roads, including where representations from Members or the public had been received.

Comment
A 20 year plan with many caveats and risks may or may not all happen. At least it is something to aim for. The major risk would appear to be the heavy reliance on increase Highland council borrowing in a council already one of the highest indebted councils in Scotland.

Judge for yourself by reading the plan -
See Item 9 on the agenda from 9 May 2024
https://www.highland.gov.uk/meetings/meeting/4967/highland_council

 

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