Scottish government urged to rethink infrastructure delivery

A new approach to infrastructure in Scotland has been presented to the Scottish government.

Infrastructure Strategy report
Infrastructure Strategy report
  • Updated: 20 January, 2020
  • Author: Emma Beer

The Infrastructure Commission for Scotland (ICS) has published their 30-year infrastructure strategy, Key Findings Report – A blueprint for Scotlandwhich focuses on delivering an inclusive, net zero carbon economy.

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.

“If we can all embrace and build on the recommendations set out in this Report, we can go a long way to turning an infrastructure vision for an inclusive, net zero carbon economy into a reality.”

Cabinet Secretary for infrastructure Michael Matheson said:
“I’d like to thank the Commission for submitting its report, following a twelve-month process.

“This advice will help shape how we plan to invest in Scotland’s infrastructure, recognising the long-term objectives of this Government to deliver an inclusive and net zero emissions economy.

“The value of investing in infrastructure goes beyond the physical homes, schools and hospitals we see in everyday life. If done well, it has the capacity to unlock economic potential, support jobs, and enable our businesses and communities to strengthen and grow.

“We will now take the time necessary to carefully consider the report before updating Parliament on how we plan to incorporate the recommendations into Scottish Government policy and the next Infrastructure Investment Plan.”

The strategy sets out eight overarching themes and 23 specific recommendations for Scottish Government to consider.

The themes are:

  • Future infrastructure decisions to be based on delivery of an inclusive net zero carbon economy
  • Increased emphasis on “place-based” infrastructure
  • Maximise, broaden the use of and better maintain existing assets
  • Accelerate the decarbonisation of heat and transport
  • Develop appropriately devolved regulatory and pricing frameworks
  • Escalate and expand access to digital and technology services
  • Improve and extend public engagement to shape decision making
  • Explore options for long-term and independent infrastructure advice

Hannah Smith, Director for ICE Scotland, said:
The Commission’s findings signal a step-change in how we value our infrastructure – one we hope government will embrace. To create places fit for 21st-century living, it’s important to recognise that projects of all sizes must go beyond just delivering economically; our infrastructure must work for the public good.

“Scotland faces some big challenges, including, crucially, the need to de-carbonise and build a net-zero economy. We’re encouraged the Commission, as we’ve done previously, are calling on government to recognise natural infrastructure in its future-planning.

“Now, we need policy-makers to step up and deliver on these ambitions, working with industry to ensure the right landscape is in place to deliver the infrastructure that will shape Scotland’s future.”

The next stage of the ICS’ 18-month programme will see the Commission provide guidance to Scottish Government on how best to consider the 23 recommendations set out in the strategy.

Read ICE Director Hannah Smith's comments on the report on our Infrastructure Blog.

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