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Monday, May 20, 2024

£2bn Highland Investment Plan Approved by Council 

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A Highland Investment Plan worth £2 billion over the next twenty years has been approved by Council. 

The Plan will see wide ranging investment across communities in the Highlands, with over £1bn of capital investment in schools and roads over the next 10 years in phase one of the programme.

Convener of the Council Bill Lobban said:

“What is proposed is a ground-breaking, long term infrastructure investment programme for the Highland area, which will create jobs and economic prosperity across the region and constitute transformative change over the next 10 years.  

“It is a radical solution to the significant challenges we face in maintaining and renewing our asset base.

“The Highland Investment Plan responds to the widespread public support for further investment in the school estate, as well as emerging critical issues that we face in dealing with schools with RAAC and HACC.

“We cannot simply rebuild schools like for like, and where possible, we will explore retrofit and co-location opportunities.  

“Importantly, we are seeking to maximise our spending power to create innovative Community Points of Delivery for a wider range of public services in one location that can meet wider community needs as part of a strategic plan for communities.”

Leader of the Council Raymond Bremner said:

“The Highland Investment Plan will be one of the biggest investment programmes in Scotland and the largest ever for Highland.   

“In addition to improving our school estate, 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. 

“The previous three years have seen increased funding for the roads capital programme.

“The capital review of September 2023 provided roads additional capital investment of £7.8m over five years and in March, members agreed another £40m over three financial years.  

“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 first 10 years of the Investment Programme will see investment in an initial phase of projects which will be place-based.

These include Dingwall, with £400m investment to redevelop education and community facilities across the town in addition to housing, infrastructure and depots; with a similar approach in Thurso; Alness; Brora; Dornoch; Goslpie and Invergordon. 

Schools identified for investment in phase one include Beauly, Charleston, Dunvegan, Fortrose and Inverness High School. 

Initial seed-funding of £2.8m will create £50m of capital to start the investment fund.

Ringfencing 2% on council tax each year will generate capital to maintain the funding plan over the long-term.

The funding will be agreed each year by Council as part of the budget setting process. 

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