Infrastructure Commission for Scotland
In early 2019 the Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity invited us to undertake an 18-month commission to advise on a 30-year, long term strategy and its delivery for Scotland’s infrastructure.
The Scottish Government’s definition of infrastructure includes both economic and social infrastructure that covers transport, energy, telecoms, water, waste, flood defences, housing, education, health, justice and culture. During the work of the Commission it has also become evident to us that Scotland’s natural assets should also be incorporated in this definition of infrastructure.
The commission has engaged widely and received input from over 200 organisations and 1000 individuals across Scotland. It also took evidence from similar organisations in the remainder of the UK and internationally. This engagement and evidence gathering has been fundamental to shaping and informing our work.
During the past 12 months it has become clear that net zero carbon and inclusive economic growth are two key policy areas which have a significant bearing on infrastructure. Focussing infrastructure decisions on these areas of policy will lead to very different outcomes compared with past investment, and the nature, purpose and focus of infrastructure investment over the 30 year horizon is likely to change fundamentally as we aim for an inclusive net zero carbon economy.
Most of the evidence in relation to the impact of infrastructure is focused on traditional GVA type outcomes which are not seen as the sole measures of success and opportunities of net zero carbon or inclusive economic growth. Given the urgency of the transition, this means we will have to take some infrastructure decisions according to agreed principles for which detailed empirical evidence may not yet be available as well as take immediate steps to develop that new evidence base. This Phase 1 report therefore provides an opportunity to set out an overall 30-year infrastructure vision to support and enable an inclusive net zero carbon economy and establish some short and longer-term actions to achieve this.
Much good work is already underway in Scottish Government, Local Government and the private sector. More can be done and faster if target dates are to be met. Whilst many of the recommendations are principally aimed at Scottish Government, it is important to recognise that the success or otherwise of achieving the desired outcomes will be incumbent on all those who plan, build, invest in, own, operate, regulate and use infrastructure as well.
Infrastructure Commission for Scotland, 2020. Key findings: A blueprint for ScotlandOpens in a new tab. Edinburgh: Scottish Government.
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