Scottish climate change adaptation programme: progress report 2018

Fourth annual progress report on the Climate Ready Scotland: Scottish climate change adaptation programme.

Annex A: Programme Highlights of the 4 th Annual Progress Report

Natural Environment

Peatland ACTION fund

Since 2013, over 10,000 hectares of peatlands have been restored through the Scottish Government-funded Peatland ACTION initiative, coordinated by Scottish Natural Heritage.

Peatlands cover around 20% of land in Scotland or around 1.7 million hectares. However, not all of Scotland's peatlands are in good condition. It is currently estimated that over 600,000 hectares of Scotland's peatlands are in a degraded condition as a result of historic land management decisions (drainage, burning and erosion). Degraded peatlands not only act as a source of greenhouse gas emissions, they have also lost their natural capacity to adapt to climate change (drought or flooding).

The restoration of Scotland's degraded peatlands can considerably reduce this source of greenhouse gas emissions, and ensure that this valuable habitat is able to adapt more easily to climate change.

Healthy peatlands help us adapt to and mitigate climate change by: providing conditions where new peat is able to form, thereby helping to restore natural processes; enhancing biodiversity and protecting the ground from further erosion: moderating flow rates and flood risk; and reducing water pollution thereby improving water quality (benefiting our fisheries and securing our drinking water supplies).

In addition, and perhaps more importantly, the work carried out by Peatland ACTION and eligible projects is helping to maintain, and where possible improve Scotland's natural carbon storage. Peat is a potential source of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses, and as the peat dries out and erodes these gasses are released back into the atmosphere. By creating conditions where the peat can start to grow back, we can reverse this trend and store these greenhouse gasses instead.

Recent peatland restoration projects include:

  • creating peat-pools to slow the flow of water, and trap and prevent sediments entering Sandy Loch an important drinking water loch in Shetland;
  • gully bonding and ditch damming at Lochrosque (Highlands), to reduce water flow flashiness to increase run-of-river hydro-scheme efficiency, and trap and reduce the amount of sediment entering the drinking water treatment works;
  • peat-hag re-profiling and sphagnum transplanting from 'borrow' areas on Beinn Dubh and Mid Hill high above the shores of Loch Lomond to help prevent further peat erosion and create a rich habitat for wildlife;
  • ditch blocking and sphagnum transplanting from neighbouring 'borrow' areas on Hermanness National Nature Reserve to secure nesting habitat for the next generation of great skuas and other moorland birds.

All of these projects will help lock in CO 2 and other greenhouse gases (methane and nitrous oxide).

The strength of the Peatland ACTION fund lies in working collaboratively and learning-by-doing. Monitoring and reviewing the effectiveness of different restoration techniques informs adaptation to achieve the best results for the future of Scotland's peatlands.

Fourth edition of UK Forestry Standard

The UK Forestry Standard ( UKFS) is the reference standard for sustainable forest management in the UK. It outlines the context for forestry, sets out the approach of the UK governments to sustainable forest management, defines standards and requirements, and provides a basis for regulation and monitoring – including national and international reporting.

Guidelines on how to meet the UKFS requirements include climate change, with good practice requirements for land managers on planning for future climatic change. The UKFS was reviewed and the fourth edition published in 2017.

Plant Health

A Chief Plant Health Officer for Scotland was appointed in February 2017; a milestone in securing effective collaborative effort across the research community. Scottish Government Rural and Environment Science and Analytical Services Division ( RESAS) launched the Centre of Expertise in Plant Health in February 2018. The Centre aims to bring the best available plant health expertise into a virtual centre, to coordinate access by policy makers to expertise from across Scotland, and to enhance synergy of effort and to stimulate innovative thinking in support of plant health policy.

Buildings and Infrastructure

Flood risk engagement

During 2017, SEPA continued to implement a comprehensive programme of flood risk engagement work including: direct marketing and community engagement for new flood warning schemes; and education and awareness work in partnership with Safer Communities partners. A new digital and radio advertising campaign related to forecast flooding was also introduced as were local 'RiverTrack' flood alerting pilot projects.

Scottish Water Storm Water Management Strategy

Tackling sewer flooding is a high priority for Scottish Water, which is committing £170 million of investment to tackle the issue in the 2015-21 investment period. In the past Scottish Water has focused on building larger tanks and bigger sewers to deal with increasing volumes of surface water. While these will still be needed, the new Storm Water Management Strategy, published in February 2018, recognises the need for more sustainable solutions to remove surface water from the sewers and manage it on the surface. The launch of the Strategy is the start of a long term process; implementation will require Scottish Water to work in partnership with communities, local authorities and land owners.

Solutions that mimic natural drainage, including diverting roof and road water through channels to landscaped green spaces and ponds, use of permeable paving, and property level rain gardens form a central part of the new Strategy. These solutions will be tested through pilot projects in partnership with local authorities and communities. While traditional hard engineering solutions will remain an important aspect of storm water management solutions, the Strategy recognises a clear and increasing role for green and blue infrastructure.

Natural solutions are well suited to planning and building phased storm water management solutions. Phased solutions enable current sewer capacity issues to be addressed and incorporate flexibility to allow increased capacity to be created in future in response to changes in catchments such as increases in hard surfaces or increases in rainfall occurring as a result of climate change. This approach supports proactive management of flood risk rather than reacting to flooding when it occurs.

The Strategy is aligned with the requirements of the Flood Risk Management (Scotland) Act 2009 and associated sustainable flood risk management outcomes, including 'Rural and urban landscapes with space to store water and slow down the progress of floods'. A focus on 'above ground' natural solutions also has the potential to deliver wider benefits for communities who could benefit from better quality green spaces as well as enhanced flood protection.

Green Infrastructure Fund: Climate Change Adaptation

Scottish Natural Heritage's Green Infrastructure Fund is using funds from the Scottish Government's European Regional Development Fund ( ERDF) programme to improve the environment in disadvantaged parts of our towns and cities. Well-designed urban green space helps us adapt to and mitigate climate change, by restoring natural processes, managing run-off and flood risk, reducing air and water pollution, alleviating urban heating and providing more space for nature.

The Fund will mean investment of around £38 million (40% from ERDF; the rest from match funding) in 15 major capital infrastructure projects by 2022. Seven projects are already underway, with another funding round due later this year. Projects include: using the Monklands Canal for water storage to control flood risk in North Glasgow; de-culverting of existing watercourses and wetland creation at Easterhouse in Glasgow and Middlefield in Aberdeen; new woodland, grassland and wildflower habitats at Blairbeth in South Lanarkshire and Southside in Glasgow, which will help absorb CO2 and other atmospheric pollutants; and surface water management across the Foresterhill hospital and university campus in Aberdeen.

Each project is important for its local community, but the strength of the Fund lies in pulling together the lessons, good practice and case study examples to demonstrate what can be achieved and encourage others to invest more in improving urban environments in future.

A82 Steep Ground Harvesting project

The purpose of the A82 Steep Ground Harvesting project is to remove a serious risk to one of the main arterial routes of the Highlands. A catastrophic wind blow incident could result in hundreds of tonnes of trees being blown across the A82 fully blocking it. It is also likely that numerous rocks and boulders would be dislodged as a result of disturbance to root plates with much of this material either ending up directly on the road or left in a precarious condition above it. This would have both major short and long term safety, economic and reputational impacts.

The project has been successfully delivering operations for over 6 years in multiple locations across the National Forest Estate, and is forecast to continue until 2032. To date it has progressed safely and efficiently, all the while building capability within the forest industry as a whole for dealing with similar challenges into the future. The operations are amongst the most challenging in the UK and are held in high regard by stakeholders, including Transport Scotland, with the experience gained influencing the planning of other steep ground operations across the UK.

The post-harvesting plan for the project area is to re-stock with a variety of native species, planted at low densities, which will require much lower levels of future management and which will create a stable situation for the future.

The Engine Shed - Developing building conservation skills

The Engine Shed, Scotland's dedicated building conservation centre, opened to the public on 3 July 2017. Run by Historic Environment Scotland, it serves as a central hub for building and conservation professionals and the general public. Our historic built environment is a finite and unique resource, yet its care calls for conservation skills that are in short supply. The importance of climate change adaptation is mainstreamed in this new learning and visitor resource. It will enable a greater understanding of traditional building materials and skills and inspire future generations to continue to care for Scotland's built heritage in the face of a changing climate.


Edinburgh Adapts – Helping Edinburgh Meet the Challenges of a Changing Climate – One Year On

Councillor McVey, Leader of the City of Edinburgh Council, said in November 2017,

"Along with all cities, Edinburgh will be profoundly influenced by the impacts of global climate change. We are strongly committed to continuing our adaptation work over the long term and seeing the Edinburgh Adapts vision become reality. Taking action to adapt will safeguard our treasured built and natural environment and enhance quality of life for residents and visitors. We will adapt in a way that delivers multiple benefits and supports our ambitions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions."

Implementation of the Edinburgh Adapts first five-year action plan began in 2016. Significant progress in the first year included pioneering approaches to green infrastructure and driving forward a step change in the management and maintenance of historic buildings.

Partnership working is key to the success of the Plan. Working together has enabled the sharing of knowledge, expertise and skills. A Steering Group of key organisations across the city is providing strong leadership and governance.

As well as delivering on adaptation, the Plan is helping to protect and enhance the city's biodiversity and green and blue spaces. Green infrastructure is being promoted through the planning process and by partnership working, and practical examples of greenspace innovation is raising public awareness and understanding of the additional benefits that adaptation can bring to the urban environment.

Heritage organisations are working with local partners to manage the impacts of climate change on the city's historic environment. The University of Edinburgh, who own a number of buildings in the city, including historic buildings, is taking a whole institution approach to adaptation and is in the process of finalising its first adaptation strategy.

Edinburgh is a coastal city and will be impacted by sea level rise and coastal change. The Edinburgh Adapts initiative has successfully begun to raise the profile of this issue through joint work with the Universities of Glasgow and Edinburgh, while the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh and Edinburgh Living Landscapes have undertaken awareness raising activity with local communities and schools.

Flooding has a huge impact on the city. Implementation of the Forth Estuary Local Flood Risk Management Plan 2016-2025 has begun and Edinburgh's Braid Burn and Water of Leith Flood Prevention schemes are progressing well. A Surface Water Management Plan for the city will be completed in due course to assess current and future flooding risks from pluvial flooding.

At local level, community resilience groups are being established following the successful completion of the Edinburgh Community Resilience project which aimed to help neighbourhood areas enhance their capacity to respond to and recover from resilience incidents.

Download the Edinburgh Adapts Vision, Action Plan and first year progress report from the Adaptation Scotland website.

Aberdeen Adapts

Aberdeen Adapts aims to help the city become more resilient to the impacts of climate change by creating its first climate change adaptation strategy. The project was selected for support from Adaptation Scotland following an open call for place-based partnerships in summer 2016. Jointly led by Aberdeen City Council and the University of Aberdeen, the project has used a wide range of engagement activities to collect views from local stakeholders on how best to prepare for the risks, and seize the opportunities inherent in our changing climate. A draft Aberdeen Adapts Action plan and governance options provide a strong foundation for action by partners in Aberdeen.

Climate Ready Business

The past year has seen an increase in business engagement and understanding of the climate risks and opportunities. The Climate Ready Clyde initiative has pioneered research to identify the economic implications of climate change for Glasgow City Region, including the headline impacts of climate change on the City Region's economy and implications for key business sectors. Climate Ready Clyde is also developing an assessment of the City Region's 'adaptation economy', i.e. the goods and services that the City Region provides which support adaptation and resilience to climate change, and key areas for growth.

Clydeplan also played a pivotal role in ensuring Glasgow City Region's future economy, through development of their Strategic Flood Risk Assessment. The assessment analysed future flood risk to planned housing, strategic economic investment locations, industrial land, freight hubs and the City Region's strategic centres to help inform decision making for future development.

The novel, innovative approach won an award in the process category for the Scottish awards for Quality in Planning 2017. Adaptation Scotland published a new Climate Ready Business guide in partnership with the 2020 Climate Group, Scottish Enterprise and VisitScotland and supported two business engagement events including a successful business day held as part of the European Climate Change Adaptation Conference held in Glasgow in June 2017.

The VIBES Scottish Environment Business awards have added an adaptation award category and are working with Adaptation Scotland to increase awareness of business adaptation options as part of their engagement and events.

NHS Scotland Development of a Climate Change Risk Assessment Tool

A group of NHS Board representatives have come together to develop a climate change risk assessment process, building on the work of NHS Highland who have been pioneering the approach. During 2017, NHS National Services Scotland, NHS Highland, NHS Lanarkshire, NHS Grampian, NHS Tayside and NHS Ayrshire and Arran have collaborated to develop a climate risk assessment process that will enable them to assess the impact of climate hazards and climate change, both now and to 2050, on service provision including the delivery of medical services and the health and safety of patients and staff. Consideration is also given to non-traditional needs ( i.e. beyond clinical care) the community may expect a health care facility to provide in the face of a severe weather related event. The aim is to develop a user friendly tool which will assist all NHS Boards in their assessment of climate risks and the identification of practical measures and safeguards. Guidance and training workshops are being developed and piloted in 2018 by the group and will be rolled out across all Heath Boards.

The group is also working with Adaptation Scotland to adapt draft NHS Scotland specific guidance to take account of these new developments and to complement the national public sector guidance on adaptation.

New insights developed in understanding overheating risks in buildings housing vulnerable people

ClimateXChange, with support from Health Facilities Scotland and Health Protection Scotland, completed a scoping study to identify how to monitor overheating risk in buildings housing vulnerable people in Scotland. This research is an important first step in identifying how the risk of overheating in these buildings could be monitored and managed in future.

Adaptation Scotland support programme

Specialised support on climate adaptation is provided through the Adaptation Scotland Programme, funded by the Scottish Government and delivered by sustainability charity Sniffer, and has supported important regional initiatives delivering on adaptation: the Galloway and Southern Ayrshire Biosphere Reserve, Climate Ready Clyde, Edinburgh Adapts and Aberdeen Adapts, as well as increasing engagement with the business community.

Adaptation Scotland will continue to play a key role in supporting wider engagement to deliver the Adaptation Programme. Through Adaptation Scotland, organisations, business and communities are supported to adapt to the impacts of climate change through connecting science and practice and building strong partnerships for planning and action.

Highlights for June 2017 – May 2018 include:

  • Raising Scotland's profile and creating opportunities for international engagement through co-organising the European Climate Change Adaptation Conference, held in Glasgow and hosting a climate ready cities side event at COP 23.
  • Delivering a successful Risk Assessment Task Group which enabled Historic Environment Scotland, Aberdeen City Council, NHS Facilities Scotland and Scottish Water to collaborate and complete comprehensive climate change risk assessments that are informing decision making across their organisations and sectors.
  • Delivering a successful six-month Climate Ready Clyde Accelerator Course which contributed to increased adaptation planning and action and provided a platform for participants to continue collaborations through the Climate Ready Clyde initiative.
  • A strong legacy from the Edinburgh Adapts initiative (which was co-developed with support from Adaptation Scotland) evidenced by the first annual progress report on delivery of five year action plan and increased commitment and action among city partners.
  • A draft Aberdeen Adapts Action plan and governance options developed providing a strong foundation for action by partners in Aberdeen.
  • Increased engagement with the private sector including successful business engagement event, new business adaptation guidance published in partnership with Scottish Enterprise, VisitScotland and the 2020 Climate Group and inclusion of an adaptation commendation award as part of the VIBES awards.
  • A refresh of public sector adaptation guidance is under way with input from across the public sector.
  • Pilot projects testing creative approaches to engaging communities in adapting to climate change and supporting collaboration between organisations and communities.
  • A diverse range of well received resources, events and training provided covering climate justice, business engagement with the cultural and tourism sectors, support for the universities and colleges sector and teaching resources for primary and secondary schools.
  • Supporting strong links between research and practice through collaboration with ClimateXChange.
  • Input to developing the next generation of UK Climate projections ( UKCP09) and the National Coastal Change Assessment.

Adaptation Research Fellowships

Scottish Government's Strategic Research funds the ClimateXChange Centre of Expertise, including two Research Fellowships dedicated to adaptation research. Adaptation Scotland supports strong links between research and practice through collaboration with ClimateXChange, input to developing the next generation of UK Climate projections and Scotland's National Coastal Change Assessment.

Climate Change Indicators

ClimateXChange had by mid-2016 published 105 indicators measuring and monitoring progress in building a climate ready Scotland. The indicators support Scottish Government policy in three key areas: (a) inform and analyse risks identified for Scotland in the UK's Climate Change Risk Assessment; (b) show progress towards the objectives set out in Scotland's Climate Change Adaptation Programme; and (c) inform the independent assessment of the Programme by the Adaptation Sub-Committee of the UK Committee on Climate Change.

Public Bodies Duties

The Scottish Government supports and encourages climate action from all public bodies in Scotland and recognises the key leadership role they have to play. 180 named public bodies are required to report annually on compliance with their climate change duties, including adaptation. 2016-17 reports have been published by Local Authorities, Further and Higher Education, National Health Service and others (including transport partnerships, police and emergency services, National Parks, Scottish Water, Scottish Environment Protection Agency and a range of other non-departmental public bodies).

Required Reporting for Public Bodies

Further to section 44 of the Act, the Scottish Government introduced the Climate Change (Duties of Public Bodies: Reporting Requirements) (Scotland) Order 2015 requiring all named public sector organisations to submit reports on their compliance with their climate change duties under the Climate Change Act.

Named public bodies are now required to report annually on compliance with their climate change duties, including adaptation. Currently, 180 public sector organisations report annually under this legislation. The Scottish Government supports and encourages climate action from all public bodies in Scotland and recognises the key leadership role they have to play in tackling climate change and adapting to the impacts of climate change. The Scottish Government funds the Sustainable Scotland Network to act as a central gateway, providing support, resources and facilitating collaborative working.

2016-17 reports have been published by Local Authorities, Further and Higher Education, National Health Service and others (including transport partnerships, police and emergency services, National Parks, Scottish Water, SEPA and a range of other non-departmental public bodies). The reporting form captures information on the key emission sources and other governance, adaptation and sustainable procurement issues, including basic transport and business travel data.

3rd European Climate Change Adaptation ( ECCA) Conference

In June 2017, Glasgow hosted the 3rd European Climate Change Adaptation ( ECCA) Conference, the first time ever in the UK, attracting around 1000 delegates from all over the world. Pioneering work on climate resilience in shaping investment in Glasgow and transforming communities helped win Glasgow the conference. The bid was supported by 46 organisations across Scotland and the UK. It marked the first time that the conference was held in the UK since its inauguration, with previous host cities including Hamburg and Copenhagen.

The Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform was amongst other high profile speakers, covering the conference theme of 'Our Climate Ready Future', the Climate Ready Scotland Exhibition (celebrating many of the adaptation case study highlights of the 3 rd Annual Progress Report) was launched at the Conference and a day focussed primarily on considering businesses and innovation in adaptation.

The conference was recognized as an excellent opportunity to engage with European counterparts and we will continue to find opportunities to do so, to address both mitigation and adaptation challenges, and share knowledge and best practice.

British Irish Council Environment Work Sector

The British Irish Council Environment Ministers met in Dublin in March 2018 to discuss climate change adaptation which has been added to the environment work programme for the next two years with a view to sharing experience and collaboration.

Scottish Government Climate Justice Fund

The Climate Justice Fund was launched in 2012 with a focus on climate adaptation, and the first two rounds supported 11 projects in some of Sub-Saharan Africa's most climate-vulnerable communities.

Adaptation Scotland – International Engagement

Adaptation Scotland raises Scotland's profile and creates opportunities for international engagement e.g. through co-organising the European Climate Change Adaptation Conference in Glasgow and hosting a climate ready cities side event at the UNFCCC COP 23 climate conference in Bonn in 2017.

Traction Project

The Scottish Government is supporting an adaptation competency framework being piloted by sustainability charity Sniffer and IIED (International Institute for Environment and Development) in Scotland and Malawi, two countries with very different adaptation challenges, which will be used as a tool to to enable further peer learning between Scotland and a range of Least Developed Countries.

Agricultural Skills in Africa

The Scottish Government Climate Change Team, International Development Team and SCIAF (Scottish Catholic International Aid Fund) are partnering on an agricultural skills training project for small scale farmers in Zambia.


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