Highland Council approves additional £24.5m for roads, bridges and piers
The 10-year plan, which will fund some £900m of projects, will now form the basis of a future rolling programme of capital investment. It will be updated at least annually to allow for new projects to be considered in future years.
Given the long term nature of the capital plan and the need to provide flexibility to accommodate new or changing demands, some lines still contain generic headings. This will allow for local consultation and prioritisation as projects are identified. A number of projects are listed as desirable, but currently unfunded. These projects may be included in the plan at a later date should funding circumstances allow.
Reprofiling of funding allocated to Park and Ride measures has been put into 2023-24 until further housing development plans are known. £7m for flood prevention schemes has been moved by 3 years until national funding has been clarified.
Chair of the development and infrastructure committee, Cllr Audrey Sinclair, said: “An additional £24.5m will be invested in our roads, bridges and piers across the Highlands. We have over 7000km of non-trunk roads in the Highlands and our road infrastructure is vital to communities. This is a substantial investment which will significantly help us improve our roads.”
The council’s Capital Budget is funded by a mixture of Government Grant and Borrowing. This is entirely separate from the Revenue Budget with separate Government Grant allocations.
The cost of borrowing is however met from revenue, and the council clearly has to strike a balance of protecting and enhancing its infrastructure against the need to make revenue savings. The Capital Plan will be subject to ongoing review to reflect changes in grant, cost of borrowing, and timescale of projects. However the report presented today reflects the council’s ambitions.
Leader of the council Cllr Margaret Davidson, added: “As with any budget, we acknowledge there are risks associated with long term planning assumptions. In a time when our revenue budget is taking a huge hit, it is a positive that we are able to plan for a huge capital investment over the next 10 years in our infrastructure. Every pound we spend on improving our roads, bridges and buildings goes back into the Highland economy and helps to support jobs and growth.”