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A National Mission with Local Impact – draft infrastructure investment plan 2021‑2022 to 2025‑2026: consultation



Chapter 1 – The Infrastructure Commission For Scotland

Chair of the Infrastructure Commission for Scotland Ian Russell (left) and Michael Matheson, Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity (January 2020)

To support delivery of the National Infrastructure Mission, Scottish Ministers established an independent Infrastructure Commission for Scotland. The Remit and background to the Infrastructure Commission is published in Annex A.

The Infrastructure Commission for Scotland started work in 2019 and has reported its findings in two phases:

  • Phase 1: recommendations on the vision, ambition and strategic priorities for infrastructure were published in ‘A Blueprint for Scotland’ in January 2020.[4]
  • Phase two involved providing further advice on the delivery of infrastructure. This advice was published in July 2020.[5]

The Infrastructure Commission was asked to work with the Scottish Government’s definition of infrastructure, as below. This was developed after reviewing approaches adopted across the UK, and internationally such as in Canada, Australia and the USA. Scotland recognises a wider range of infrastructure than some others, including social and digital infrastructure, for example.

The Infrastructure Commission’s Phase 1 report proposed the following vision:

30-year Infrastructure Vision: To support and enable an inclusive net zero carbon economy

In 2018, the First Minister announced a National Infrastructure Mission, steadily to increase Scotland’s annual infrastructure investment so that it reaches internationally competitive levels by the end of the next Parliament. This will see £1.5 billion higher investment in 2025‑26 than in 2019‑20, an increase representing a full 1% of GDP at the time the Mission started.[3]

Infrastructure is:

“The physical and technical facilities and other fundamental systems necessary for the economy to function and to enable, sustain or enhance societal living conditions.

These include the networks, connections and storage relating to the enabling infrastructure of transport, energy, water, telecoms, digital and internet, to permit the ready movement of people, goods and services.

They include the built environment of housing; public infrastructure such as education, health, justice and cultural facilities; safety enhancement such as waste management or flood prevention; and public services such as emergency services and resilience.”

In formulating its first report, the Infrastructure Commission engaged widely across Scotland, attracting almost 150 submissions and feedback from over 1,000 members of the public. It sought views from users and future users of infrastructure, including engagement with young people[6], providing a rich source of information.

Phase 1 Key findings report called on the Scottish Government to tackle the dual challenges of a climate emergency and creating an inclusive growth economy. It identified 8 thematic areas with 23 recommendations aimed at the Scottish public sector, as well as infrastructure regulators, operators and users. Key recommendations relate to:

  • Considering expanding our infrastructure definition to include Natural Capital, including ‘green’ and ‘blue’.
  • Developing an investment hierarchy for Scotland, which prioritises a greater focus on maintenance of existing assets over new build.
  • New methods of appraisal and prioritisation to strengthen the evidence base for infrastructure investment decisions, and ensure they match long-term goals
  • Broader public engagement in forward infrastructure plans.

Scottish Ministers agree with the recommendations in the Phase 1 Report. Some forward dates and implementation details may look a little different from Infrastructure Commission aspirations, not least out of necessity given the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our work. The Government’s detailed response is set out in the table below, covering 22 out of the 23 recommendations now.

The Infrastructure Commission’s comprehensive second report on the delivery of infrastructure was published in July and the Scottish Government will now take the time needed to consider its findings very carefully. The final Phase 1 report recommendation, number 23, related to statutory long-term, independent advice. Since this concept was explored and developed more fully in the Phase 2 report, a formal response on this recommendation, alongside other Phase 2 findings, will be published in due course.

The Commission recommendations are wide-reaching. This draft Infrastructure Investment Plan builds on the findings, meaning it looks and feels different to its predecessors.

Principle Detailed Recommendations Accept Scottish Government Response
Leadership 1. The 2020 Infrastructure Investment Plan should be prioritised against available inclusive net zero carbon economy outcomes.
2. Scottish Government should, by 2021, develop a new infrastructure assessment framework
3. Scottish Government should publish, by 2023, a system‑wide Infrastructure Needs Assessment
4. A fully updated Infrastructure Investment Plan should be developed for publication by 2025, using the new Needs Assessment and framework.
This draft Infrastructure Investment Plan 2021-22 to 2025-26 prioritises the pipeline of investments against three themes, including enabling net zero emissions and environmental sustainability, and driving inclusive economic growth.
It sets out a 5 year programme of improvements to infrastructure planning, ready to support future Infrastructure Investment Plans. This includes the development of a new infrastructure assessment framework and a system-wide Infrastructure Needs Assessment.
Place 5. There should be Place‑based assessment of long term Scottish housing supply and demand by 2021, supported by a coherent strategy for the labour market and business opportunities from an inclusive net‑zero economy.
6. To support the implementation of National Planning Framework 4 and the new system of development plans, a co‑ordinated and appropriately resourced Infrastructure First approach to the planning system should be introduced by the SG by 2021
This draft Plan puts ‘Place’ at its heart through its third theme focused on building resilient and sustainable places.
As part of planning reform we will set out interim housing land required (for consultation and scrutiny) in the draft National Planning Framework, due in 2021, and will frame this within a new spatial strategy that aligns with our investment programme and principles. We will build on this to further adapt our Housing Planning Delivery Framework, to enhance our placed based assessments of long term housing need and demand across Scotland through local housing strategies by 2022.
Making the most of existing assets 7. By the end of 2020, all public sector infrastructure asset owners should develop asset management strategies
8. Scottish Government should issue guidance on a whole‑life approach to infrastructure maintenance and prioritisation, which includes both cost and build resources.
9. There should be a presumption against like‑for‑like replacement of assets and construction of new, single purpose ones in favour of shared facilities.
10. By 2023, Scottish Government should establish a route map to implement an outcome‑focused system of resource use, reduction, collection, treatment & repurposing.
11. By 2023, Scottish Government should develop a clear implementation plan to address critical natural and built infrastructure climate resilience and adaptation.
We will develop a programme of work with Scottish Futures Trust to prepare guidance for public organisations when developing asset management strategies, considering whole-life approach including cost and build resources alongside the new investment hierarchy, as well as wider net zero and inclusive growth priorities.
Scottish Government is developing a route map to reduce waste and meet our waste targets and recycling targets for 2025.
Scottish Government policies set out in Climate Ready Scotland: Second Scottish Climate Change Adaptation Programme7 will be embedded across Government. Independent, expert advice from the Adaptation Committee of the Committee on Climate Change will stimulate further progress.
Heat & Transport
12. By end 2020, accelerate development and implementation of incentives, support mechanisms and standards for energy efficient, net zero buildings.
13. By 2022, Scottish Government, local authorities, regulators and industry should establish a route map for decarbonising heat in domestic, commercial and public buildings, as well as surface‑based transportation.
14. The National Transport Strategy and Strategic Transport Projects Review 2 should fully reflect the need to deliver an inclusive net zero carbon economy.
15. By the end of 2021, develop a new Transport investment appraisal and decision‑making process, with necessary changes to current guidance.
16. Scottish and UK Governments should commit to work together to establish a charging and payment alternative to the existing fuel and road tax‑based regime, to give a more stable, long‑term regime for road management and maintenance.
This draft Plan sets out programmes and projects to accelerate decarbonisation of heat and transport.
The Climate Change Plan8 shows how Scotland will drive down emissions to 2032. It will be updated later this year to incorporate green recovery proposals.
We have committed to £1.6 billion investment in heat and energy efficiency in our homes and buildings. We are rolling out a Net Zero Carbon Public Sector Buildings Standard, ensuring new public buildings are net zero ready. Future actions will be set out, by the end of 2020, in the Heat Policy Statement and Energy Efficient Scotland Route Map. We will also deliver a Hydrogen Policy Statement and Hydrogen Action Plan as a companion to the Climate Change Plan Update.
The National Transport Strategy (NTS) fully reflects our need to deliver our ambitious net-zero targets. We will assess future transport investment decisions through the second Strategic Transport Projects Review; embedding the NTS priorities and outcomes and the Sustainable Investment Hierarchy.
Powers relating to Vehicle Excise Duty and Fuel Duty are reserved to UK Government. The Scottish Government has written to the Secretary of State and would welcome constructive discussion with UK Government on these issues.
Regulation 17. Building on the UK National Infrastructure Commission review of Energy and Telecoms regulation, Scottish and UK Governments should work together to develop, by 2021, an appropriately devolved regulatory & pricing framework to meet future needs.
18. Building on existing plans Scottish Government should, by 2021, consider options for delivery and regulatory coherence of water provision and flood management/resilience.
We continue to work with the UK Government and regulators on an underpinning framework in both Energy and Telecoms that is responsive to Scottish needs.[9] Work is in train to increase collaboration between water industry and flood management partners.
Digital & Technology 19. Scottish Government should provide the leadership required to ensure delivery of a full fibre network for Scotland by 2027, to enable the transition to 5G country‑wide.
20. To increase Scotland’s international presence and connectivity, Scottish Government should support an indigenous data‑centre market, and investment in fibre‑optic cable.
21. From 2020, Scottish Government should consider the future data requirements and data potential for new publicly‑funded infrastructure, and digital services.
The Reaching 100% (R100) programme will give people in every part of Scotland access to superfast broadband by end 2021 and will provide a significant number of full fibre connections well in advance of 2027. SG continues to work with UK Government on their commitment to roll out gigabit broadband across the country by 2025.
The Scottish Government is working with Scottish Futures Trust and partners on a strategy and action plan with the datacentre and international connectivity industry. This work will identify and map out future digital connectivity investment opportunities.
We will continue to work to foster the adoption of open data standards, open data and platform based business models necessary to realise the future data requirements and potential for publicly funded infrastructure.
The role of the public 22. By 2022, capacity and capability requirements for an informed approach to public engagement
and participation are needed, to ensure short and long term trade‑offs are effectively debated, understood and taken into account.
The Scottish Government will build on learning across sectors, including Scotland’s Climate Assembly, and other countries, to develop an exemplar public engagement approach.
Independent long‑term advice 23. By 2021, a body should be given responsibility to provide independent, long term, evidence‑based advice to Ministers on investment decisions for our social, economic and natural infrastructure needs and priorities. defer The Scottish Government is considering this recommendation in conjunction with the findings of the Commission’s Phase 2 report in order to fully reflect on the statutory implications of taking this forward.
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