Scotland's commitment to green energy risks being undermined by weaknesses in infrastructure planning

Scotland must boost low-carbon infrastructure spending says report

Investment in low-carbon infrastructure must rise by at least 20 per cent if Scotland is to meet its climate change targets, according to a new report.

The Scottish Government's "ambitious" emissions targets could be undermined by "critical weaknesses" in the current approach to infrastructure planning said the study commissioned by the Low Carbon Infrastructure taskforce.

The report said that more public and private investment in low-carbon infrastructure such as district heating systems, sustainable public transport and walking and cycling networks could not only help Scotland reach its emission targets, but also help eradicate fuel poverty, improve health and create jobs.

The report said: "International comparisons suggest that Scotland's public investment in low carbon infrastructure needs to increase by a minimum of 20 percentage points just to be in line with average global levels of investment and more if Scotland is to meet its climate change targets.

"Failing to invest in low carbon infrastructure will lock in high emissions and vulnerability to the multiple impacts of climate change, leaving a legacy of buildings, roads, energy generation and more which will be expensive to adapt in the future.

"Instead, Scotland can seize the opportunity now to increase investment in low carbon infrastructure, gaining the benefits in terms of climate change, but also economic progress and social welfare for years to come."

The report highlights strong progress by Scotland in areas such as renewable energy, but says transport, heat and domestic energy efficiency pose "significant challenges" and would benefit from "transformative" new low carbon infrastructure projects.

The taskforce behind the report includes figures from engineering, finance, construction, academia, the public sector, development and environmental groups and was chaired by Sara Thiam, a director of the Institution of Civil Engineers.

She said: "As Scotland prepares to spend billions of pounds over the coming decades to upgrade our ageing infrastructure, it's essential we invest wisely for the future, building infrastructure that improves our economy, environment and quality of life for the people of Scotland in the 21st century and beyond.

"I'm delighted to be playing a part in this exciting new project which I hope will inspire the next generation of men and women into the profession to build on the legacy of famous engineers of the past including Telford, Watt, Arrol and Stevenson.

"They have the potential to build a better world by getting involved in 21st century engineering projects that will stand the test of time, as the Forth Bridge has done."

"This report provides a valuable contribution to the ongoing challenge of tackling climate change and building a low carbon economy in Scotland," a Scottish Government spokeswoman said. "We continue to develop our understanding of Scotland's long-term infrastructure requirements in this area."

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