Response to Audit Scotland Transport Report

Commenting on the Audit Scotland report into key transport infrastructure projects, Transport Minister Keith Brown said:

"No government since devolution has embarked on such an ambitious programme of investment to transform our transport infrastructure. We are making record investment in roads, railways and bridges that will improve links and boost economic recovery.

“We very much welcome this report which confirms that all five of the major projects underway in Scotland are being well managed with sound governance structures in place to manage the risks involved in what are technically challenging and complex projects.

"The centrepiece of our infrastructure investment is the Forth Replacement Crossing, as the biggest single transport project in a generation. We welcome Audit Scotland’s endorsement of the project’s sound management and recognition that construction remains on budget and on target.

"We also note the conclusion that the reasons for changing the scope of EGIP are ‘clear and reasonable’. By revising the scope we will save taxpayers money through a reduction of £350 million in construction costs. Work on delivering the programme is well underway and already delivering benefits for passengers. The core Edinburgh Glasgow via Falkirk route will be fully electrified by December 2016.

“We continuously look to improve our processes. Whilst this report provides us with useful assurance around our governance and risk management procedures, we will take forward the recommendations to see where further improvements can be made and I look forward to leading a debate in the Scottish Parliament on major transport projects later in the year.

“While Audit Scotland acknowledge in the report that four out of five of these projects are still in procurement and therefore much of this information is commercially sensitive and cannot be disclosed on a project by project basis at this stage, we are committed to improving the presentation of cost estimates moving forward. The Scottish Government has already set out the overall annual revenue costs associated with the NPD programme as a whole, and our intention is to publish the costs for each individual project once they are in construction and when the information would no longer be considered commercially sensitive.

"We agree good quality business cases and up to date advice are an essential part of good governance and decision making, and Transport Scotland has well established procedures for business cases based on Treasury and OGC guidelines.

"The report echoes recent comments from the Civil Engineering Construction Association who highlighted the FRC and Borders Railway as being crucial in terms of supporting the construction sector during tough economic times. There is also confidence this will be further boosted by the forthcoming procurement of the M8 Bundle, Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route (AWPR) and other projects. Most of this year’s transport budget was invested back into the private sector, supporting a quarter of civil engineering contracts in Scotland and 12,000 jobs.

“Ministers have introduced a limit on how much of future budgets (total DEL) should be committed to capital investment now, and Audit Scotland has itself shown that the five transport projects are affordable within this limit. We rely on a mixture of funding mechanisms to deliver the largest ever investment in transport infrastructure and without the NPD Model to counter cuts by the UK Government, many of these projects wouldn’t be proceeding.”

Notes to editors

Contact: Danny Chalmers, Transport Scotland, 07767 412 061. For queries relating to the Scottish Government, contact Iain Monk, 0131 244 2056.

Published 20 Jun 2013