24 January 2020 | Prithvi Pandya
The Infrastructure Commission for Scotland (ICS) has presented the Scottish Government with a 30-year infrastructure strategy (Key Findings Report -- A blueprint for Scotland) with an emphasis on delivering a net zero-carbon economy.
It says that by the end of 2020, to augment legislation already being considered, the Scottish Government should set out proposals to speed the development and implementation of incentives, support mechanisms and standards for energy-efficient, net zero-carbon buildings across the country.
This should include 'whole building' solutions and systematic public engagement, customised to the needs of different groups, to ensure that all property owners engage with proposed changes and are committed to upgrading their property.
By 2022, the administration, local authorities, regulators and industry should work together to establish the viability, incentivisation mechanisms and a route map for the transition to net zero-carbon that in combination addresses heating for commercial, domestic, and public buildings as well as all surface transport.
The strategy sets out eight overarching themes and 23 specific recommendations for Scottish Government to consider. The main themes are:
1. Future infrastructure decisions to be based on delivery of an inclusive net zero-carbon economy.
2. An increased emphasis on 'place-based' infrastructure.
3. Maximise, broaden the use of and better maintain existing assets.
4. Accelerate the decarbonisation of heat and transport.
5. Develop appropriately devolved regulatory and pricing frameworks.
6. Escalate and expand access to digital and technology services.
7. Improve and extend public engagement to shape decision-making
8. Explore options for long-term and independent infrastructure advice.
Ian Russell, chair of the ICS, said: "While infrastructure investment remains a vital factor in supporting the economy and acting as an enabler to deliver effective public services, future infrastructure decisions should be based on their ability to clearly demonstrate their contribution to an inclusive, net zero-carbon economy.
"We do not underestimate the nature and scale of the challenges facing future infrastructure decisions and recognise difficult decisions will need to be made. This will require bold and determined leadership from the Scottish Government.
"However, this is not just a challenge for the public sector. Critically it is a call to everyone who plans, builds, invests in, owns, operates, regulates and, as importantly, uses Scotland's infrastructure.
The next stage of the ICS's 18-month programme will see the commission provide the Scottish Government with guidance on how best to consider the 23 recommendations set out in the strategy.