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Monday, April 22, 2024

£60m Capital Investment Proposed for Roads and Infrastructure 

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Proposals to invest up to £60m in Highland roads and infrastructure will be going before Members for approval at March Council.

The proposals include an additional £40m investment plan for roads and transport infrastructure.

This, on top of the previous three years of increased levels of funding, would bring the total capital investment in Highland roads over the next 3 years to £65m.

A further £10m is proposed for investment 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.

Members are also being asked to agree that efforts 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 proposed for 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 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.”

The proposals are set out in a report to the meeting of Council on 14 March.

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