UK recession means ‘shovel ready projects’ now urgent says First Minister


By a Newsnet reporter
Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond has called on UK PM David Cameron to release funding for so called ‘shovel ready’ projects following the news that the UK has entered a double-dip recession.
Mr Salmond said that investment in infrastructure projects is urgent and needed “more than ever” in order to protect jobs and stimulate growth.

Following this week’s GDP figures confirming that the UK has now officially re-entered recession with a significant fall in construction activity, the First Minister has written again to Mr Cameron, urging him to act immediately to assist the recovery by targeting investment in “shovel ready” projects across Scotland.

After the Prime Minister accepted the principle of accelerated capital spending at their meeting in February, the First Minister wrote to the UK Government outlining a list of 36 infrastructure projects in Scotland worth £300m that could begin immediately if funding was in place.

The First Minister has now warned that the news the United Kingdom has entered a double-dip recession means urgent action is required to fund these projects and help turn the economy around. 

The First Minister said:

“This week’s news of a UK double-dip recession makes it abundantly clear that the UK Government must change course and inject capital spending to steer the economy back to recovery.

“The austerity approach has plainly failed, with negative UK growth in four out of the last six quarters proving that the economic position now is no better than it was when the UK Government took office. 

“The Scottish economy outperformed the UK in the last two quarters of 2011, and the Scottish Government are doing everything in our current powers to stave off a double-dip recession here.”

Last week’s figures showed that a sharp drop in the construction sector, which fell by 3 per cent, was behind the contraction.  The Office of National Statistics blamed the particularly large fall on UK Government spending in the sector.

Mr Salmond said that capital spending on construction projects was precisely the approach the SNP Government had been advocating for months.  Calling for a targeted stimulus the SNP leader recalled the UK PM’s agreement last month on the importance of capital spending.

“In March – at his request – I wrote to the Prime Minister outlining infrastructure projects worth £300m from the north to the south of Scotland that are ‘shovel ready’ to stimulate the Scottish economy and help keep Scotland out of recession.” he said and added:

“Despite claiming that he agreed in principle with this targeted approach, the Prime Minister has ignored our requests to boost Scotland’s capital budget to fund these projects and help drive economic recovery.

“The Scottish economy is showing some positive signs, with a drop in unemployment and a recent CBI Scotland Industrial Trends report demonstrating that business optimism in Scotland is at an 18 month high.  Employment in Scotland is higher than the UK as a whole, and unemployment is lower.

“But much more can be done, and it is now time for the UK Government to alter its direction.  Investment in our ‘shovel ready’ projects is now needed more than ever.”

The full list of the shovel ready projects, totalling £302m, submitted to the UK Government is as follows:

  • Ullapool Pier – Passenger access system, traffic management, new berthing dolphin and replacement linkspan, £4m
  • Gourock-Dunoon Pontoons £2m
  • Kennacraig Phase 2, £4m
  • A96 Threapland, £6m
  • A68 Pathhead to Tynehead Junction, £6m
  • A95 Lackgie, £4m
  • A702 Candymill Bend and Edmonstone Brae, £4m
  • A737 Head Street Roundabout, £1.5m
  • A876 Kincardine Bridge Refurbishment, £14m
  • A75 Hardgrove to Kinmount, £10m
  • M8 M73 M74 Motorway Improvements: Advance Public Utilities, £37.8m
  • Health Maintenance to ensure assets are safe, effective and person centred, £50m
  • Accelerating Schools for the Future – worth £30.8m
  • University projects worth £35m including:  University of Glasgow – Centre for Virology Research; University of Dundee – Phases 2 and 3 – refurbishment of Duncan of Jordanstone; University of Abertay / Dundee College – Dundee Academy of Sport; University of Edinburgh – Centre for Humanities and Social Sciences.
  • Dundee Central Waterfront, £4.5m
  • Fife Energy Park – Site Development, £3.5m
  • ITREZ Technology Innovation Centre, £4m
  • ATOS Building – Forress Enterprise Park, £3m
  • Inverness Campus, £6m
  • Forres Enterprise Park – Extension of Roads, £2m
  • Forres Enterprise Park – Provide 2 Units, £3m
  • European Marine Science Park – Ground works, £3.5m
  • Creative Clyde, £1.7m
  • National Renewable Infrastructure Plan – Hunterston Quay Upgrade, £2m
  • Priority investments within Local Authority Strategic Housing Investment Plans, £15m 
  • Clyde Gateway developments at Bridgeton Cross, Dalmarnock Cross, Rutherglen and Shawfield, £37m
  • Ayr Gaiety Theatre regeneration, £1m
  • National Records of Scotland – Thomas Thomson House – urgent roof repairs, £1.5m
  • Historic Scotland – Abbotsford House – restoration to bring into public use, £0.7m
  • Historic Scotland – Lews Castle development, £1m
  • Forestry Commission Scotland – upgrade of visitor facilities at David Marshall Lodge,
  • Aberfoyle and Queen’s View, Perthshire, £1m
  • National Parks – visitor facility improvements within the National Parks, £1m
  • Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh – commence replacement of the Garden’s ageing glasshouses, £1.5m