Road and Rail Network (Aberdeenshire)

Dennis Robertson (Aberdeenshire West) (SNP): To ask the Scottish Government what improvements are planned to upgrade the road and rail network in Aberdeenshire. (S4O-03916)

The Cabinet Secretary for Infrastructure, Investment and Cities (Keith Brown): The Scottish Government is addressing years of underinvestment in the north-east. We are currently committed to schemes that include the Aberdeen western peripheral route, Balmedie to Tipperty road improvements, Aberdeen to Inverness rail improvements, Inveramsay bridge and Haudagain roundabout, and which total almost £1 billion. By 2030, the planned £3 billion investment on dualling the A96 between Inverness and Aberdeen will provide further vital improvements that will benefit the area.

Dennis Robertson: I thank the cabinet secretary for that extremely positive answer. Does the cabinet secretary agree that that action is in keeping with the Government’s proposal and strategy for economic growth, that it will provide jobs for the north-east and that it is testament to the Government’s plans to secure employment in the north-east?

Keith Brown: Dennis Robertson’s question is very topical, given some of the recent developments in the north-east. The Scottish Government fully appreciates the important role that investment in road and rail infrastructure plays in the creation and sustainment of jobs in the north-east, which is demonstrated by the programme of investment that I have just outlined.

As an example of that, the construction of the AWPR alone is expected to lead to more than 14,000 jobs being generated over the first 30 years after the scheme opens, and it is estimated that it will generate more than £6 billion in additional income for the north-east by reducing cost to businesses and providing opportunities for increased sales.

We can contrast that positive action by the Scottish Government with the dithering over oil taxation that we are currently seeing from the United Kingdom Government, which demonstrates that the Scottish Government is doing the job that is necessary to ensure that we increase economic activity and job opportunities in the north-east.