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Scottish Council for Development and Industry (SCDI) publishes green recovery plan or way back from coronavirus crisis

By Gregor White

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The SCDI is calling for a green plan to help the economy recover from coronavirus.
The SCDI is calling for a green plan to help the economy recover from coronavirus.

The Scottish Council for Development and Industry is calling for Scottish and UK governments to deliver an ambitious 'green stimulus' to kick-start the economy.

The plan has been developed by SCDI’s Clean Growth Leadership Group, which brings leaders and experts from business, industry, academia, local government and the public sector together to tackle climate change with practical ideas and action.

SCDI chief executive Sara Thiam said: "Government, employers, workers, citizens and communities need to work together to tackle the climate emergency with the same urgency as we have the public health emergency."

The organisation says a "green stimulus" should include new or expanded national programmes of investment in:

  • Domestic buildings retrofit and energy efficiency;
  • Domestic buildings heat pumps;
  • Low- and zero-carbon transport infrastructure (including active travel routes, EV charging points, hydrogen refuelling points, railway electrification);
  • Nature-based solutions (such as tree planting, peatland restoration, flood management);
  • Digital connectivity.

It says such investment needs to happen at pace and at scale to address the worst-hit sectors of the Scottish economy and jobs at risk in tourism and hospitality, retail, construction and energy, with investment targeted at accelerating the decarbonisation of such sectors and supporting laid-off workers with reskilling, upskilling and transitioning into new green jobs.

The report also calls for:

  • A Green Jobs Transition Taskforce to prevent a surge in unemployment by supporting laid-off workers into new green jobs.
  • Green Reskilling & Upskilling Fund to help Scottish workers to keep pace with technological, environmental and labour market changes and to increase workforce and business resilience to future disruption.
  • Green Town/City Plans to transform the natural and built environment of Scotland’s towns and cities to create more inclusive, resilient and sustainable places which encourage walking and cycling, reduce pollution and facilitate social distancing.
  • New ‘net-zero presumption in favour’ in planning for developments which are essential to achieving net-zero (e.g. new active travel routes, onshore wind farms, pumped storage hydro or sustainable housing).
  • Better public procurement approaches by government, local authorities and public agencies to invest more public money locally and sustainably (e.g. Community Wealth Building).
  • Strong environmental conditionality on business support, rescue agreements or bailouts for the worst-hit businesses and sectors to accelerate their progress to net-zero.

Keith Anderson, chief executive of ScottishPower, said: "SCDI’s plan further strengthens the case for accelerating investment in a cleaner, greener society to deliver positive outcomes for both the economy and the environment.

"Positive outcomes that will benefit all of us thanks to cleaner power, cleaner home heating and cleaner transport that will deliver much-needed jobs and investment while cleaning up the environment and decarbonising the economy.

"The time really is now for government, business and all of us to step up and make this happen.

“As the UK’s first 100 per cent green energy company, we’ve continued to invest and support the economy during the pandemic and continued to lead the way on the country’s journey to net zero.

"These two strands must keep working hand in hand to achieve a cleaner, greener and fairer future and ScottishPower will continue to play its part to ensure we can all enjoy that better future, quicker."

Will Gardiner, Drax Group chief executive, said: "As we begin to overcome the immediate economic challenges we face, we must build a sustainable recovery for both Scotland’s communities and its climate through embracing flexible, low carbon technologies like pumped storage.

"Through the Scottish Government adopting the report’s call to favour projects that contribute to net zero within the planning system, and the UK government supporting an appropriate investment framework, innovative pumped storage projects such as Cruachan 2 could be delivered in the years to come.

"Increasing the role of pumped storage will unlock the full potential of wind power in Scotland and provide the secure and sustainable electricity supplies a post-Covid, zero carbon economy needs."

Robbie Kernahan, director of sustainable growth at Scottish Natural Heritage said: "This report highlights the critical role of nature-based solutions and active travel in the green recovery, it shows how business and public sector interests are working together and at pace to develop the ambitious plans needed."

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