Publication - Strategy/plan

Heat in Buildings Strategy - achieving net zero emissions in Scotland's buildings

Sets out our vision for the future of heat in buildings, and the actions we are taking in the buildings sector to deliver our climate change commitments, maximise economic opportunities, and ensure a just transition, including helping address fuel poverty.

Heat in Buildings Strategy - achieving net zero emissions in Scotland's buildings
Chapter 4 Place

Chapter 4 Place

As we transform our homes and buildings by making them more energy efficient and installing low and zero emissions heating, we will need to consider our local surroundings and resources, whether in dense urban or suburban areas or smaller rural towns and villages or in our remote and island communities. As such, the transition to zero emissions buildings may look different in different communities and require approaches tailored to place.

It will be important for local communities to shape and be involved in decisions about solutions that are most appropriate for their local area. Our Local Energy Policy Statement[xl] sets out clear principles to guide local energy planning and community engagement.

Communities

Communities in Scotland have a strong legacy of engagement in, and ownership of, energy projects, much of which has been based on a strong desire to improve local circumstances by utilising these positive business models to support community led development projects, whilst also championing the climate change agenda.

Respondents to the consultation expressed broad support for a place-based and community-oriented approach, which many believe is the key to meeting heat targets. Some focussed on the challenges for island and other remote communities. The draft Strategy acknowledged that there is no single solution for the diverse building stock found across Scotland. We will publish an Islands Impact Assessment shortly and will provide more information on the actions we are taking to boost zero emissions heating and energy efficiency in our island communities in the Islands Energy Strategy (which will complement the existing National Islands Plan[xli]) due in 2022.

We remain committed to continue to work with trusted local partners and established community groups and provide support for the development of low and zero emissions projects.

We believe that communities, large and small, will play an important role in driving forward the transformation of the nation's building stock, not only working to solve local energy challenges but being powerful advocates for local change, motivating volunteers and local champions to take action.

Communities can play an important role in planning, identifying and delivering projects on heat and energy efficiency. This may include decarbonising community assets such as halls and community centres, or community ownership or co-ownership of communal heating solutions, such as heat networks. Our new CARES programme focuses on supporting communities to work together to address and champion heat decarbonisation on a local level (see chapter 6 for more details). Through CARES we are working to understand further the models and solutions most appropriate for communities in Scotland.

Case Study: Community Heat – The Coalburn One Stop Shop.

The Coalburn One Stop Shop in Lanarkshire is the hub of the local community, providing a Post Office, cash machine, cafe, function rooms, local food and second-hand shops. It hosts a range of activities such as councillor surgeries, committee meetings, parties, flower arranging and dance classes. It is owned and run by the Coalburn Miners’ Welfare Charitable Society and has provided a service to the Coalburn community since 1925, used by approximately 3,500 people per month. They decided to look into lower running costs to help the centre to become more self-sufficient in managing finances. With support from the Scottish Government CARES programme, they replaced an existing oil boiler and wet heating system with a new air to air heat pump, saving them £1,419 on their annual fuel bills.

Image of Coalburn One Stop Shop – Community Heat- Provided by Local Energy Scotland – Energy Savings Trust (January 2021)

Alongside our CARES support, we are exploring how to integrate heat decarbonisation into community climate action initiatives such as Climate Action Towns and Community Climate Action Hubs, where there are real opportunities for citizens to shape the future development of their communities.

We are also working in collaboration with the Scottish Cities Alliance and the seven cities on the opportunities to accelerate activity at pace to ensure the Scottish cities cumulatively play their role in meeting our heat decarbonisation and energy efficiency ambitions whilst maximising the economic and well-being outcomes across cities.

Summary of action we are taking:

23. We are exploring how to integrate heat decarbonisation into community climate action initiatives such as Climate Action Towns and Community Climate Action Hubs.

24. We are supporting communities to work together to address, and champion, heat decarbonisation through the new CARES programme and are working to understand further the models and solutions most appropriate for communities in Scotland.

25. We are also working in collaboration with the Scottish Cities Alliance and the seven cities on the opportunities to accelerate activity at pace to ensure the Scottish cities cumulatively play their role in meeting our heat decarbonisation and energy efficiency ambitions whilst maximising the economic and well-being outcomes across cities.

Local Heat & Energy Efficiency Strategies

Local Heat & Energy Efficiency Strategies (LHEES) are at the heart of a place based, locally-led and tailored approach to the heat transition. These local Strategies will underpin an area-based approach to heat and energy efficiency planning and delivery.

In the consultation draft, we asked respondents for their views on the timeline and approach we set out for LHEES. We welcome the support offered by a clear majority for our proposals.

In partnership with local authorities and Zero Waste Scotland, we have developed a methodology and guidance for the production of Local Heat & Energy Efficiency Strategies and Delivery Plans. The consistent, data-driven methodology and guidance build on and take into account learning from an extensive programme of LHEES pilots, which involved all Scottish local authorities.

LHEES Strategies will set out the long-term plan for decarbonising heat in buildings and improving their energy efficiency across an entire local authority area. For each local authority area, the Strategies will draw on the standardised methodology to:

  • set out how each segment of the building stock needs to change to meet national objectives, including achieving zero greenhouse gas emissions in the building sector, and the removal of poor energy efficiency as a driver of fuel poverty;
  • identify strategic heat decarbonisation zones, and set out the principal measures for reducing buildings emissions within each zone; and
  • prioritise areas for delivery, against national and local priorities.

Accompanying the Strategies will be LHEES Delivery Plans, which will be developed in partnership with key stakeholders, and provide a strong basis for action for local communities, government, investors, developers and wider stakeholders, pinpointing areas for targeted intervention and early, low-regrets measures.

LHEES is an important platform to consider both local community and wider national infrastructure issues. Local Strategies and Delivery Plans will act as an investment prospectus at national and local level, guiding delivery programmes, and signalling potential areas of investment to market actors.

LHEES will support planning for the energy networks and over time will become an important evidence base for both the electricity Distribution Network Operators (DNOs) and Gas Distribution Network (GDN), and will support the Local Area Energy Planning approach being considered by the regulated energy networks sector and the UK regulator.

The Strategies will form a basis for local public engagement, awareness raising and involvement in decision making at the local level, and will facilitate extensive engagement with local communities. We recognise that this needs to be flexible, to allow engagement to be adapted and tailored to the local context.

LHEES could also potentially play a role supporting area-based regulation. This is discussed in Chapter 8.

The Heat Networks (Scotland) Act 2021 places a duty on local authorities to conduct a review of areas likely to be particularly suitable for heat networks within its area. In addition, local authorities must publish a statement in relation to each area considered as part of the review explaining the reasons for their view. We propose that the LHEES methodology should be the means by which this review will be conducted, as LHEES is the main vehicle for heat planning for all technologies on an area basis. The Act makes provisions for this duty to be exercised by the Scottish Ministers on behalf of local authorities to ensure widespread identification of zones across Scotland.

The LHEES pilot programme was completed in April 2021 and an evaluation is underway, synthesising learning across three phases. We are also undertaking a National Assessment, using the LHEES methodology together with relevant national datasets, to carry out a Scotland-wide assessment of the building stock and identify initial strategic heat decarbonisation zones. As well as informing national decarbonisation planning, the National Assessment will create a central resource that local authorities can draw on to support access to the data and analysis needed to underpin their LHEES. In parallel with the National Assessment, we are also providing funding to 14 local authorities to take the first steps in developing a full, local authority-wide strategy, testing the LHEES methodology and building on the National Assessment outputs.

Case studies: Local Authority LHEES Resource Funding

Local authorities are accessing support to undertake early LHEES development. Examples include:

Aberdeenshire Council – Completing the first three stages of the LHEES methodology to provide an understanding of the national and local policy environment, as well as developing strategic zones for heat decarbonisation. They also plan to provide training across the local authority to build capacity on LHEES.

Glasgow City Council – Completing the first three stages of the LHEES methodology and conducting a gap analysis against their existing draft LHEES.

Orkney Council – Completing the first three stages of the LHEES methodology with a strong emphasis on data gathering, accuracy and quality to help improve the datasets required to complete the full LHEES.

Perth and Kinross Council – Reviewing the first three stages of the LHEES methodology and completing stages 4-6. A key focus is a deeper dive into the guidance for LHEES Delivery Plans to establish a replicable process for developing heat decarbonisation projects.

We want Local Heat & Energy Efficiency Strategies and Delivery Plans to be published for all local authority areas by the end of 2023. We believe that LHEES should be developed on a statutory basis and are committed to resourcing their development accordingly, and will continue to work with local authorities to deliver this.

We see huge potential from the consistent and comprehensive LHEES coverage across Scotland that will be delivered by putting LHEES on a statutory footing. We are continuing to work in partnership with COSLA and local authorities to test the LHEES methodology and to drive LHEES forward.

Summary of action we are taking:

26. We have commissioned a full evaluation of the LHEES pilot programme.

27. We are working with local authority partners and wider stakeholders to finalise the LHEES methodology and guidance, with a view to introducing legislation to establish LHEES on a statutory basis so that Strategies and Delivery Plans are in place for all local authority areas by the end of 2023.

28. We will use LHEES Delivery Plans to pinpoint areas for targeted intervention and early, low-regrets measures.

Scotland’s Planning System

In the past, the planning system has helped determine the spatial pattern of our heat supply, largely linked to proximity to the gas network. In more recent years it has helped to encourage low carbon development. In the future we will ensure planning policies support the significant reductions in emissions from buildings that we need to see. This is not just about new development – our existing buildings and places will need retrofit solutions and we will enable and encourage deployment of energy efficiency measures and low and zero emissions heating, including by facilitating the development of the networks they require.

National Planning Framework and Scottish Planning Policy

Currently, Scottish Planning Policy (SPP) (2014) states that development plans should seek to ensure that an area’s full potential for electricity and heat from renewable sources is achieved in line with national climate change targets, giving due regard to relevant environmental, community and cumulative impact considerations.

As we revise our National Planning Framework, which in future will incorporate the Scottish Planning Policy, we will look to provide stronger support for sustainable, low and zero carbon developments including ways to actively facilitate decarbonised heating and electricity generation and distribution. Potential policy changes set out in the NPF4 Position Statement published last year include:

  • Introducing new policies that address a wider range of energy generation technologies, for example for electrical and thermal storage, and hydrogen.
  • Setting out a more practical and outcome-focused approach to accelerating a transition to low and zero emissions heating in buildings, including by linking with wider policies for green and blue[7] infrastructure and vacant and derelict land and properties and ensuring that Local Heat and Energy Efficiency Strategies inform local development planning to ensure a single coherent approach to heat planning across Scotland.
  • Encourage new buildings to connect to existing heat networks, where located in a Heat Network Zone, wherever feasible; and encouraging applications for energy from waste facilities to provide a connection to a heat network, taking into account the practical considerations involved.

Permitted Development Rights

The Planning system covers a wide range of development, however minor and uncontroversial developments are often granted Permitted Development Rights. This allows small alterations to be carried out without the need to submit an application for planning permission. For homes, Permitted Development Rights are already granted, to some extent at least, for a range of technologies including:

  • Biomass heating systems
  • Ground and water source heat pumps
  • Air source heat pumps

For non-domestic properties Permitted Development Rights[xlii] are in place and allow in many instances for the installation of a range of low and zero emissions heating technologies, including solar panels and ground and water source heat pumps.

We are in the process of reviewing Permitted Development Rights, though the phasing of that programme has been affected by COVID-19. Potential Permitted Development Rights for heat networks and extending existing ones for micro-renewable technologies are part of that programme.

While Permitted Development Rights do allow for the installation of zero emissions systems in many cases, there are circumstances where the size and scale of installation may still require planning permission, as well as within designated places such as conservation areas, World Heritage Sites, or where limitations or conditions attached to Permitted Development Rights for the particular technology cannot be met. Listed building consent is required for any external and internal works to a listed building which affect its historic fabric.

Listed Buildings, Conservation Areas and World Heritage Sites

Scottish Planning Policy also seeks to promote the care and protection of the designated historic environment and ensure change is sensitively managed to avoid adverse impacts on the fabric and setting of these assets.

As set out in Chapter 2, we will work with stakeholders, including Historic Environment Scotland, to develop approaches and solutions to transition Scotland’s historic buildings to low and zero emissions heating while respecting and preserving the special characteristics of our buildings and places, including in our proposals for regulation (as set out in Chapter 8).

Summary of action we are taking:

29. Through National Planning Framework 4 we will look for opportunities to strengthen planning policy to enable and encourage energy efficiency and low and zero emissions heating.

30. We have included low and zero emissions heat networks and micro-renewable technologies in the review programme for Permitted Development Rights.

31. We will work with stakeholders, including Historic Environment Scotland, to develop approaches and solutions to transition Scotland’s historic buildings to low and zero emissions heating while respecting and preserving the special characteristics of our buildings and places


Contact

Email: heatinbuildings@gov.scot