Opinion Former Article

Infrastructure Commission for Scotland publishes advice on the long term strategy for infrastructure

The commission has been asked by the Cabinet Secretary 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.

The report is available here.

The report states:

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.

The recommendations are grouped under 8 headings: leadership, place, making the most of existing assets, heat and transport, regulation, digital & technology, the role of the public and independent long-term advice.

Some of the recommendations for transport:

All Scottish Government funded projects included in its 2020 Infrastructure Investment Plan should be prioritised against available inclusive net zero carbon economy outcomes.

The Scottish Government should, by 2021, develop and publish a new infrastructure assessment framework and methodology that will enable system wide infrastructure investment decisions to be prioritised on the basis of their contribution to inclusive net zero carbon economy outcomes.

The Scottish Government should ensure that its new National Transport Strategy and Strategic Transport Projects Review 2, which are due to be published during 2020, fully reflect the need to deliver an inclusive net zero carbon economy and consider the infrastructure and the use of it as a holistic system. This should include:

Aligning strategic investment decisions to address fully the requirement for demand management, a substantial increase in the proportion of journeys made by active travel,and opportunities for shared mobility as well as a much greater role for public transport.

For such roads investment that is made as part of the above, a presumption in favour of investment to future proof existing road infrastructure and to make it safer, resilient and more reliable rather than increase road capacity.

To enable a managed transition to an inclusive net zero carbon economy road infrastructure, the Scottish and UK Governments should immediately commit to work together to establish a charging/payment regime alternative to the existing fuel and road taxation based structure.

A report that outlines how the recommendations will be delivered is due in June 2020.

Source: www.infrastructurecommission.scot

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