Sectors - Civil

Scottish Commission Call for New Approach

The Coronavirus pandemic has reinforced the need and urgency for the introduction of a new approach when it comes to prioritising and delivering infrastructure, according to the final report from the Infrastructure Commission for Scotland (ICS).

The report was presented to the Scottish Government by the ICS and says that a net-zero-carbon economy will remain at the heart of the strategy, whilst also setting out three key recommendations. They are:

  • Giving an independent, specialist body the remit to provide strategic, long-tern infrastructure advice to the Scottish Government
  • Enshrining the ‘place principle’ and implementing a ‘one public sector’ approach to planning and developing sustainable places
  • Establishing a construction accord to strengthen the future relationship between the public sector and the construction industry.

The ICS also said that having an independent, specialist body to provide strategic advice is considered pivotal to effectively deliver Scotland’s inclusive, net-zero carbon economy.

‘Delivery Findings – A blueprint for Scotland’, which was published on Monday 27 July, and builds on the ICS’s initial key findings report which was publish in January 2020.

The independent organisation which would provide advice to the Scottish Government would sit outside the political decision-making system, in order to operate in an arms-length and transparent way.

Among ICS’ other recommendations is that the Scottish Government should enshrine the use by all stakeholders of the ‘Place Principle’– aimed at bringing together people, location and resources to create a sense of identity and purpose –  which, it says, has already been proven to be an effective model when designing places within planning practice. This would support the creation of sustainable places and help enable a ‘one public sector approach’ to infrastructure.

The report also recommends that, by early 2021, Scottish government and the Construction Scotland Leadership Group should create a construction accord. It would include measures to improve the capacity, capability and diversity of the workforce at all levels with a heavy focus on skills development, training requirements and career prospects for those working in the sector.

Ian Russell, Chair of the Infrastructure Commission for Scotland, said: “Infrastructure has a vital role to play in the delivery of an inclusive, net zero carbon economy and COVID-19 has amplified the need for urgent action and change for economic, social and natural infrastructure.

“The Commission is recommending that an independent, specialist body be given responsibility for providing Government with strategic, long-term infrastructure advice and enshrining the place principle within planning practice. Collaboration between the public sector and the construction industry is crucial and therefore establishing a construction accord between the public sector and the construction industry is another vital recommendation in the Commission’s report.”

Cabinet Secretary for Infrastructure Michael Matheson, said: “The COVID-19 pandemic has been an unprecedented global crisis which has fundamentally changed every aspect of our lives. Infrastructure will play a critical role in the years ahead as we plan our strategic economic recovery from the pandemic.

“I am grateful to the Infrastructure Commission for their hard work – no doubt made more challenging in recent months – to produce this comprehensive second report on the delivery of infrastructure. We shall now take time to consider its findings very carefully.

“The Commission’s Phase 1 report has already helped to shape our next 5-year Infrastructure Investment Plan, details of which I look forward to announcing in September. This Plan will incorporate a response to the Commission’s Phase 1 findings.”

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