Scotland's key industry sectors to give their say on future transport investment

The Minister was speaking as he announced details of a research project that will look at the way Scotland’s key sectors use transport networks and any challenges they face to ensure business continues to grow and flourish.

Mr Mackay said:

“We fully recognise the vital role that an efficient national transport network plays in Scotland’s economic and social wellbeing, which includes creating the right conditions for our businesses to thrive and to grow.

“We have a proven track record in making significant investments in our transport infrastructure. For example, since 2007 we have invested over £14 billion in transport, including twenty-three major improvements to our motorways and trunk roads completed, twenty-seven kilometres of new railways delivered and six new stations opened.

“Going forward, we are continuing record levels of this investment. This year alone we are putting £1bn into public transport and other sustainable transport options to encourage people out of their car. Rail services and infrastructure continue to be high on our agenda too, with, £5bn investment in Scotland’s railways committed between 2014 and 2019. The Queensferry Crossing is showing real progress and we are the first Government ever to commitment to dualling the A9 between Perth and Inverness by 2025.

“Other key projects include the £745m Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route project and the £439m M8 M73 M74 Motorway Improvements Project. We have also acquired Glasgow Prestwick Airport to safeguard 3,200 jobs and secure a vital infrastructure asset that contributes over £61m annually to the Scottish economy.

“These are just a few of our transport projects but we always look to do more and that is why we have commissioned this research to get the views of our businesses on how they use the transport network and any challenges they face, both now and potentially in the future. This will make an important contribution to our understanding of how the key sectors use key roads and motorways. It will also help us identify opportunities for prioritising future transport spending and shows we are listening to businesses across Scotland.”

Transport Scotland officials plan to engage with representatives from the Scottish key sectors: Creative Industries; Energy; Financial and Business Services; Food and Drink; Life Sciences; and Sustainable Tourism (as well as Retail for rail freight research purposes).

This will help to build a picture of how businesses are using the transport network, what is working well for them and any challenges they are facing. The outputs of this will form an important part of Transport Scotland’s evidence base for prioritising future spending, helping our key sectors grow, innovate, and create good quality employment opportunities.

The Scottish Council for Development and Industry, who will be engaged as part of the study, have lent their support. Gareth Williams, Policy Director, SCDI, said:

"Transport improvements are key to driving productivity and internationalisation in the economy and evidence from business on where further investment in connectivity would generate the greatest benefits is, therefore, very important.

"We hope that this research will identify the growth opportunities across all sectors of the economy and have a specific interest in where transport networks need to be better integrated to move people and goods more efficiently. We particularly welcome the focus on unlocking the barriers to rail freight - where we think there are strong opportunities - to inform the new Rail Freight Strategy, and we hope that a better understanding of business priorities for air routes will support work to develop international connectivity."

It is anticipated that the report will be ready by summer 2015.

Published 16 Mar 2015