Scottish news round-up: 11th December 2008


Additional Forth Crossing at centre of plans for transport spending

The Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Climate Change Stewart Stevenson outlined some of the key elements of the Scottish Government’s Strategic Transport Projects Review. Plans for a new Forth crossing were given the most attention with the announcement of a reduction in costs and the news that the deterioration of the current bridge was not as bad as anticipated. He announced that the existing bridge would continue to be used and would become a public transport crossing. It was explained that the Scottish Government would pay for the new crossing with Scottish Government resources and that approaches had been made to the Treasury to accelerate transport funding. However, it was also stressed that if the Treasury did not consent then other projects would be delayed. Other projects noted during the speech included dualling the A9 from Perth to Inverness; decreasing rail journey times between Edinburgh/Glasgow and Inverness/Aberdeen; a new rail station at to link the tram system to the airport. Opposition parties suggested that the statement lacked commitments and had not set out how the projects would be paid for.

Report on energy efficiency in the public sector

Audit Scotland has published a report which looked at how councils, the NHS and central government bodies are improving energy efficiency in their buildings and transport use. Improving energy efficiency finds that the public sector has made some progress in using energy more efficiently. It suggests that there is a need for stronger leadership on energy efficiency from both the Scottish Government and within public bodies themselves. It also finds that the public sector cut its energy use in public buildings by 4.8 per cent between 2004/05 and 2006/07. However, over the same period spending on energy rose by 46.7 per cent, due to increases in fuel and power costs. Collectively, councils and the NHS spend the most on energy, and have made the greatest efforts to improve their energy efficiency.

News in brief

● Ministers are expected to announce plans for the future of World Heritage Sites and for the next census.
● The Scottish Secretary Jim Murphy will be at the RSE to make a speech on Securing Scotland's Future Prosperity.
● The Gaelic film festival will be launched in Glasgow.
● VistScotland chair Peter Lederer will present Edinburgh International Conference Centre with a gold award from the Green Tourism Business Scheme.

Clip of the day: the Chancellor doesn’t want to rush into a marriage with Emily Howard….

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