Alan Russell: Replacement Forth crossing cannot be delayed

I was astounded to read Graeme Brown from Shelter Scotland's article calling for capital projects, namely the Forth Replacement Crossing, to be deferred so that money can be redirected into a national housebuilding programme.

The replacement crossing is a vital project for Scotland's infrastructure and a lifeline for businesses and residents in Fife and the whole of eastern Scotland. Delaying it will result in severe travel restrictions and perhaps closure of the existing bridge. This will create catastrophic conditions for many businesses, hampering their ability to operate effectively and will cost the Scottish economy in excess of 1 billion a year.

Investment in our transport infrastructure is vital to ensure that our businesses can prosper, grow and create more jobs. If Shelter Scotland want to see more houses built and funded by the public sector, then this is done when the economy is growing and there is expansion in the private sector.

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It is totally unacceptable for people like Mr Brown to be calling for the delay of this major transport project just so that he can access more government funding for his own sector.

Mr Brown should think carefully about where future resources can be accessed from, for example via public-private sector funding partnerships, and not come up with hare-brained ideas to suit his sector's requirements at the detriment of all else.

The Scottish business community will not stand back and allow this essential project to be scuppered so that Scotland can replace housing stock that has been sold off to bolster public sector coffers. As far as I am aware there is a substantial empty housing stock and plenty of empty rental properties, so I am unsure what the problem is.

However, most private sector organisations have been tightening their belts for the past two years and will be at the heart of Scotland's economic recovery.

Delaying the Forth Replacement Crossing will not allow us or our businesses to achieve that.

• Alan Russell is chief executive of the Fife Chamber of Commerce