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Inverness and Highland City Region Deal

Volume 607: debated on Tuesday 22 March 2016

In March 2015, the Government announced their intention to negotiate an Inverness and Highland city region deal. As well as deals across England, this followed the successful agreement of a city deal in Glasgow and Clyde Valley. An Aberdeen city deal was announced on 28 January 2016.

I can today inform the House that the Government have reached agreement with the Scottish Government, the Highland Council and other partners on a heads of terms city region deal for Inverness.

This heads of terms city region deal agreement provides a transformative opportunity to position the area as a region of digital opportunity and strength, thereby enabling the highlands to be the best digitally connected rural region in Europe.

Central to this will be a significant funding package which invests up to £315 million of public money into the regional economy. As part of this funding package, the UK Government will commit up to £53.1 million, the Highland Council along with regional partners will commit up to £127 million and the Scottish Government will commit up to £135 million. This funding package will be provided over a 10-year period subject to detailed business cases, statutory processes and implementation plans.

The UK Government’s contribution to the fund will support a set of proposals from the region intended to enable the highland area to be the most digitally connected rural region in Europe by investing into extended digital coverage, including superfast broadband and mobile 4G connectivity.

It will also support a package of new innovation measures that builds on existing academic and industry expertise in Inverness, as well as business support networks across the highlands. This will include exploring ways to support a multi-disciplinary centre focused on the commercialisation of new medical products and technologies, and a northern Scotland innovation hub.