The Scottish Government has announced that the Argyll and Bute bid for £20 million of funding as one of the pilot projects under the new Tax Incremental Funding scheme has been successful.
The funding has been given for the stated project of extending Oban’s North Pier and is part of the ambitious wider Lorn Arc project which includes a focus on developing a facility to support offshore renewable energy installations.
Michael Russell, MSP for Argyll and Bute, has welcomed the news, saying: ‘I am delighted that the SNP Scottish Government has responded so positively to the Argyll and Bute plans.
‘This is a big investment and a great vote of confidence in Oban and the surrounding area and should lead to new employment and new opportunities.
‘I was enthusiastic about this from the beginning – now we have the green light there is much hard work to be done to make it a reality.’
Councillor Donald ’Skye’ McIntosh, chairman of the Oban Harbour Development Group which has fought for decades for increased berthage in Oban Harbour, says: ‘I have been leading this fight for an extension for the North Pier since I was elected in 1999 as it is a way to get cruise liners in, to provide safe berthage for fishing boats and yachts.
‘Today’s news fundamentally improves the town of Oban and its prosperity. This is all thanks to the commitment of the SNP government in supporting Oban and Lorn.’
Tax Incremental Funding (TIF) allows local authorities in disadvantaged areas, on approved submissions, to borrow for infrastructural developments against the business rates projected to be generated in responses to the new commercial opportunities created.
This is very good news for Oban and a source of unequivocal congratulation to Argyll and Bute Council whose submission was one of three selected for its competence by the Scottish Futures Trust, charged with overseeing the TIF initiative.
This funding is part of a total Scottish Government investment under TIF of £1.4 billion in infrastructural projects across the country.
The three local authorites chosen to work with the Scottish Futures Trust (SFT) to develop full TIF business cases are:
- Argyll and Bute Council – £20m proposal to extend Oban’s North Pier and to construct a development road at Dunbeg/Dunstaffnage. The council estimates the creation of 1,000 FTE jobs.
- Falkirk Council – £52m direct investment to key strategic road improvement, the Grangemouth flood defences and site enabling works. It is forecast to attract £365m of private sector funding and, the council estimates, creating over 5,000 full-time equivalent (FTE) additional jobs at national level.
- Fife Council – £17m for improved vehicle and marine access to Energy Park Fife, site remediation and enhanced delivery of a Levenmouth Low Carbon Investment Park. It is estimated by the council that 1,000 new jobs will be created.
Ministers have, to date, approved two TIF business cases:
- City of Edinburgh Council – £84m Leith Waterfront project has the potential to unlock £660m of private investment generating 4,900 FTE jobs.
- North Lanarkshire Council – £73m Ravenscraig Phase two scheme is expected to unlock £425m of private investment and over 4,500 FTE jobs.
In addition to those already agreed, work is continuing on developing further TIF business cases..
- Glasgow City Council is in the process of developing a business case for a £80m TIF project, Buchanan Quarter, which is expected to be submitted shortly. This is a development of the Buchanan Galleries shopping mall.
- Aberdeen City Council’s plan to use TIF for the highly controversial Union Terrace Gardens project – which a substantial proporation of its residents oppose – will be progressed if public support for the project can be demonstrated.
Cabinet Secretary for Infrastructure and Capital Investment, Alex Neil, says: ‘As Westminster cuts bite, it is imperative that we do all we can with the increasingly limited public finances available to assist regeneration by levering in additional private sector capital.
‘Driven by the Scottish Futures Trust, innovative funding models such as TIF will help invigorate our economy and deliver a legacy of infrastructure assets for communities across Scotland.
‘Later this year we will unveil our Infrastructure Investment Plan, a blueprint for ambitious capital investment for the next ten years that underlines infrastructure as an essential lever in our economic strategy for Scotland.
‘Depending on progress with TIF pilots, we will bring forward primary legislation before the end of this Parliamentary session to roll out TIF more widely across Scotland. There may also be further opportunities to progress those bids not announced as successful, to ensure good geographical spread, before then.’