Infrastructure Investment Plan 2021-22 to 2025-26: progress report 2022 to 2023

Second annual progress report relating to the Infrastructure Investment Plan 2021-22 to 2025-26 which outlines the progress made in relation to the Plan’s three themes during the last year as well as key delivery achievements and activity planned for the coming year.

Enabling net zero emissions and environmental sustainability

Decarbonising Transport and Supporting Active Travel

Active Travel

In 2022-23, we provided a record level of funding for Active Travel infrastructure and Behavioural change programmes. This included £52 million of grant funding for the Places for Everyone programme to deliver infrastructure projects across Scotland, £35 million across all 32 local authorities for safer walking, wheeling and cycling routes, and a record investment of £10.6 million for the National Cycle Network. We invested over £10 million on behaviour change initiatives in our schools, workplaces and communities to support people to make a modal shift towards safer walking, wheeling and cycling for short everyday journeys.

Bus Partnership Fund (BPF)

The second round of Bus Partnership Fund awards were made in February 2022, bringing the total number of Partnerships funded to 11 across 28 local authorities. To date, we have awarded up to £26 million of initial funding to local authorities, working in partnership with operators, to identify, develop and deliver bus priority measures.

Rail Services Decarbonisation and Enhancements

In 2022, we progressed our decarbonisation plan for Scotland's passenger rail services with continued work on the electrification of the Glasgow to Barrhead line, due for completion in December 2023. Work also continued work on the Levenmouth Reconnected project which will deliver a double tracked railway with two new stations and active travel links by spring 2024. In the Borders, the new Reston station opened in May 2022, with work continuing on a new station at East Linton, which is due to enter service in 2024. We also opened the new Inverness Airport station in January 2023.

Future Transport Fund – capital to support low and zero carbon investment

In 2022-23, the ChargePlace Scotland network has grown to over 2,500 public charging assets, making it the fourth largest such network in the UK. It now boasts over 80,000 registered members with around 45,000-50,000 charging sessions taking place each week, compared to 30,000 per week in summer 2021. In the last year, over £600,000 worth of grants were offered to charities, and those living and operating in rural areas, for the installation of EV charging infrastructure at homes and business premises.

We launched the Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Fund which aims to unlock £60 million of public and private investment towards growing the public Electric Vehicle (EV) charging network across Scotland. To support the delivery of this fund we have also been working with local authorities to develop regional public electric vehicle charging strategies for cars and vans. We have already provided in excess of £10 million of funding to local authorities and public bodies to facilitate and support fleet decarbonisation activity.

The Strategic Timber Transport Scheme was allocated £6.5 million in 2022-23, enabling £10.4 million of work on 22 improvement projects across Scotland. This includes, for example, the development of floating pier infrastructure in Ardnamurchan to move timber directly onto coastal shipping taking timber lorries off minor fragile single-tracked roads. The Strategic Timber Transport Fund also allocated grant towards the initial phase of the electric timber lorry trial for Lockerbie and Inverness, and to the ongoing Timberlink Service which ships timber from Argyll Forests to timber processors in Ayrshire reducing timber lorry traffic on A83/A82 over the Rest and be Thankful and Loch Lomondside.

In 2022, we launched the £500,000 Zero Emission Bus Market Transition Scheme to support small to medium enterprise bus and coach operators, and community transport providers, to examine potential approaches to decarbonising their fleets. We also launched a new four-year Zero Emission Mobility Innovation Fund providing up to £28 million to support domestic supply chain innovation to meet Mission Zero. The Zero Emission Truck Taskforce, with support from Transport Scotland, completed an information gathering phase in 2022 and are now developing a pathway to decarbonisation for heavy goods vehicles.

In 2022-2023, the Plugged-in Communities scheme continued to help community transport schemes with the purchase of plug-in minibuses, wheelchair accessible vehicles and cars. Community transport offers communities flexible and affordable access to the latest electric vehicles without the financial commitment of car ownership.

Decarbonising Heat and Boosting the Energy Efficiency of Buildings

Domestic Energy Efficiency: Area Based Schemes

The Area Based Schemes (ABS) programme has helped thousands of households across Scotland to improve the energy efficiency of their homes during 2022-23. Delivery of some larger projects will now be extended to more streets and blocks of properties this summer.

In line with our commitments in the Programme for Government, the Scottish Government has maintained its' annual investment in local ABS projects at £64 million in 2023-24. ABS projects will continue to provide more whole house retrofits that include zero/low carbon heating and microgeneration (solar PV (Photovoltaics) etc.), where this is technically feasible and will help to reduce fuel poverty. Every council in Scotland has now received details of their funding allocation for 2023-24 and has been invited to develop proposals for this financial year and beyond.

Domestic Energy Efficiency: Warmer Homes Scotland

The annual budget for 2021-2022 was £50 million and was further increased to £55 million for 2022-2023. Warmer Homes Scotland has helped over 32,000 households since its launch in 2015, and currently households who receive improvements through the scheme are expected to save an average of £160 per year on their energy bills. The contract for Warmer Homes Scotland has been extended to run until September 2023.

Through Warmer Homes Scotland we have made available renewable heat and new insulation measures some of which may be particularly beneficial to rural and remote communities not served by the gas grid. These include ground source heat pumps, micro-wind, micro hydro, micro-CHP (Combined Heat and Power) systems and 'QBot' - an underfloor insulation system installed by a robot. Micro-CHP systems are not suitable for off gas grid areas as these are gas powered. Additional enabling measures introduced under the scheme include extraction of failed cavity wall insulation, asbestos removal and the installation of fuel storage tanks and low energy lighting.

The formal procurement for an enhanced successor scheme to Warmer Homes Scotland is underway, with the new scheme due to go live when the current contract expires. The new scheme will have a greater focus on decarbonisation of heat, taking a zero emissions first approach to heating installations with a greater intervention cost per household.

Home Energy Scotland (HES) Grant and Loan

The Home Energy Scotland (HES) Grant and Loan Scheme was launched in December 2022 and offers applicants a grant, interest free loan or combination of both to support the installation of energy efficiency measures and zero emissions heating. This scheme offers applicants a straight-forward, flexible and accessible way to access targeted priority measures.

The new scheme is an update of the previous HES loan scheme. The Bute House Agreement, Heat in Buildings Strategy and Programme for Government 2022-23 committed to replacing the previous loan and cashback arrangements with a standalone grant to support the installation of energy efficiency measures and zero emissions heating.

The HES Grant and Loan Scheme is delivered through a consumer-led model where the funding is applied for by the consumer directly, who in turn is responsible for sourcing an installer and paying funding to them once works are complete.

Across both iterations of the scheme, a budget of £42 million was allocated for 2022-23, double the level of 2021-22 and the scheme is on track to pay £42 million to households within 2022-23.

Social Housing Net Zero Heat Fund

First launched in August 2020, the Social Housing Net Zero Heat Fund is making £200 million available to registered social landlords to help install zero emission heating systems and improve energy efficiency in social housing until 2026. The fund is for the retrofit or refurbishment of existing housing stock and provides grant funding to help cover the costs of energy efficiency measures and zero emission heating systems, including connections to district heat networks.

Community and Renewable Energy Scheme

The Scottish Government is committed to supporting the growth of community and local energy in Scotland through mechanisms such as its flagship Community and Renewable Energy Scheme (CARES). The scheme, which is delivered by Local Energy Scotland, supports communities to engage, participate and benefit from the energy transition to net zero. The current CARES contract, which commenced 1 April 2021 and will run for a period of 4 years, gives priority to decarbonisation as the driver for community-led action.

In 2022-23 CARES launched the 'Let's Do Net Zero Community Buildings' fund, which provides a rolling programme of support to communities, charities, and faith organisations to decarbonise their buildings and reduce energy bills. This support takes a whole building retrofit approach, covering energy efficiency measures, zero emissions heat installations, and additional small-scale generation where there is a clear benefit to the community organisation in terms of energy bill reduction.

CARES 'Let's Do Net Zero: Off Electricity Grid Communities' fund continues to provide a package of support to some of Scotland's more remote and rural off grid communities to help them upgrade their energy systems and decarbonise their energy supplies, with the aim of making them more resilient and sustainable in the future.

CARES also launched the Community Heat Development Programme in 2022-23. This programme provides community organisations and groups of householders help to develop their own ideas for locally generated, low and zero carbon heat projects utilising support from expert advisors to assess the feasibility of projects and advise on next steps, including potential roues for further funding.

Public Sector Estate: Scottish Central Government Energy Efficiency Grant Fund

The Scottish Central Government Energy Efficiency Grant Fund was launched in June 2021. It offers capital grant funding support to enable the delivery of decarbonisation projects across the public sector, specifically supporting retrofit of existing buildings owned by central government organisations with energy efficiency measures and renewable heat technology to help them reach net zero emissions across their estates. The fund also provides resource support to enable the building of a pipeline of investment-ready projects in 2022-23 and beyond, further accelerating investment in energy efficiency and renewable technology across the public sector.

The fund relaunched in May 2022 to support multi-year projects and to continue to boost heat decarbonisation and improve energy efficiency across Scotland's public sector. Since re-launching in 2022, the scheme has committed £30 million of investment across 32 capital projects to be delivered over the course of three financial years. Since re-launching the fund has also supported 17 pre-capital projects totalling around £750,000 of resource funding. The fund remains open to applicants and will support projects up to the end of this parliamentary term.

Low Carbon Infrastructure Transition Programme

The Low Carbon Infrastructure Transition Programme (LCITP) is now closed to new applications after awarding approximately £73 million to projects that decarbonise heat since it was launched in 2015. In 2021-22, it was announced that the Low Carbon Infrastructure Transition Programme had awarded funding of £8.7 million to low carbon energy projects that support Scotland's Green Recovery, £6.6 million of which were for projects that will decarbonise how buildings are heated. Thirty-six projects have been awarded funding through LCITP, with 21 still currently under construction.

Scotland's Heat Network Fund

Scotland's Heat Network Fund was launched in February 2022 with a budget of £300 million over the course of this parliament to accelerate the deployment of zero and low emissions heat networks that can provide reliable and affordable heat to consumers. A key objective of the Heat Network Fund is to support projects that will result in wider social and economic benefits for Scotland. The Heat Network Support Unit launched in September 2022 to address the challenges in the pre-capital stage of heat network development. It identifies prospective heat network projects; supports the development of heat network projects across Scotland, through advice and grant funding; and builds capacity and expertise across the public (and private) sector in Scotland to develop and run successful heat networks.

Clyde Mission

Work is underway to develop a scheme to distribute funds to support the delivery of zero emissions heat projects along the river Clyde to help to deliver the aims of Clyde Mission to make the Clyde an engine of sustainable and inclusive growth for the city, the region and for Scotland. An announcement on the detail of that scheme is expected to be made summer 2023.

Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh - Edinburgh Biomes

The Edinburgh Biomes is a critical infrastructure replacement / improvement project which will see new energy efficient glasshouses, an energy centre and state of the art front of house facilities installed in the Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh (one of Scotland's top visitor attractions), including the Grade A Listed Victorian Palm House. The glasshouse structures and energy centre are essential in order to protect and conserve Scotland's National Living Plant Collection.

In 2022-23, we saw continuation of ground works, including preparations for the decanting of species to temporary storage areas and preparations for works to construct the new low carbon energy centre. Furthermore, we saw the start of a 2-year refurbishment piece of work to the Victorian Palm Houses.

The Edinburgh Biomes is a complex multi-year project with a large number of interconnecting parts involving 'living' species of rare and protected plants. Like a number of large-scale capital infrastructure projects, progress has been impacted by flux in the global construction market, resulting in increased costs, shortage of materials and delays in delivery.

During 2023-24, we will see continued focus on the infrastructure network for the new energy centre, decant glasshouse and ongoing refurbishment work on the Victorian Palm Houses. Project timelines and milestones are being reviewed and adapted on an ongoing basis.

Decarbonising Industry

Scottish Industrial Energy Transformation Fund (SIETF)

Currently 21 projects in receipt of Scottish Industrial Energy Transformation Fund (SIETF) grant offers have commenced activity to decarbonise their industrial processes. This amounts to £12 million of £35 million total investment (including industries' contributions). Of these, 3 deployment projects and 1 study were completed/commissioned in 2022-23.

For year ahead, a third call for projects is at due diligence stage from which a greater number of projects and a higher overall value of grants than previous calls is anticipated. This will boost investor confidence across Scottish sectors to progress projects at manufacturing sites that can reduce carbon intensity and deliver energy productivity gains.

Emerging Energy Technologies Fund (EETF)

The first tranche of the Emerging Energy Technologies Fund (EETF), the £10 million Hydrogen Innovation Scheme, launched in June 2022 with a focus on innovation in renewable hydrogen production, storage and distribution technology. The funding call received a high number of applications demonstrating the strength and breadth of hydrogen activity in Scotland's innovation ecosystem, with grant awards due to be announced in Q1 2023-24. The second tranche of funding, the £90 million Green Hydrogen Fund is due to follow.

Energy Transition Fund (ETF)

All 4 Energy Transition Fund (ETF) projects have been fully in delivery in 2022-23. Progress towards key objectives has been positive, with all projects completing the majority of their envisioned aims for outputs, although both the Energy Transition Zone Ltd and Aberdeen Hydrogen Hub reported underspends against key activities. These underspends have been made available for use in financial year 2023-24. The Global Underwater Hub project managed to achieve one key aim without requiring the full budget, so that underspend was returned to the financial centre.

Key highlights of 2022-23 include: the purchase and refurbishment of a building by ETZ Ltd to create the Floating Offshore Wind Centre of Excellence – a site that will directly support the development and commercialisation of technologies to support large scale floating offshore wind development, and the aims of the Scotwind leasing round; and the delivery of a world first demo by the Net Zero Technology Centre of running a jet turbine on e-methanol - with minimal modifications to the equipment, this alternative fuel source offers the opportunity to drastically reduce carbon emissions in North Sea assets versus operating the turbines on kerosene or diesel.

In 2023-24, the anticipated deliverables include: completion of refurbishment of the W-Zero-1 Offshore Floating Wind Centre of Excellence on the Energy Transition Zone, providing space and testing capability for technology that will support the roll out of floating wind generation, including the sites identified under the ScotWind process; and the creation of operational interim and upgraded Hydrogen refuelling facilities as part of the Aberdeen Hydrogen Hub work – enabling further adoption of Hydrogen as the fuel solution for both public transport and Council fleet vehicles in Aberdeen. Additionally, the Aberdeen Hydrogen hub will form the blueprint for the Hydrogen Hub approach as envisaged by the Hydrogen Action Plan

Low Carbon Manufacturing

During 2021-22, we developed and launched a CivTech challenge that aims to find a technological or software solution to help better inform decisions manufacturers take to decarbonise. At the completion of the CivTech accelerator phase, we signed a Pre-Commercial Agreement with a small Scottish start-up called iSumio to work towards a beta product by the end of 2022.

iSumio have now succeed in producing their beta product named Neoni® as a part of the Agreement and are seeking to test this with industry. We are continuing to work with the company to support this phase with an aim to move towards a full commercial launch of the product later this year.

We launched the Low Carbon Manufacturing Challenge Fund (LCMCF) in May 2022. The goal is the development of new products, services or technologies that will reduce emissions, energy consumption, waste production and decrease the use of raw materials in the manufacture, and/or end use, of the existing alternative. Alternatively, we want to support the development of new business models based on the principles of a circular economy, through, for example, circular supplies, resource recovery, product life extension or use of sharing platforms.

Administered by Scottish Enterprise, LCMCF grants are for a minimum of £150,000 with £3 million made available across 2022-23. The first grant award of £750,000 to NorFrame was announced in December 2022 to support the establishment of a fully renewable energy powered factory to manufacture timber kit frames for homes, schools and commercial buildings. There continues to be a good level of interest in the Fund from industry with a large volume of proposals at various stages of the pipeline.

Supporting a Circular Economy

Waste Sector

The Scottish Government has been amongst the leaders in developing policies for zero waste and the circular economy, and has made significant long-term progress, working with many partners, in increasing recycling and diverting waste from landfill. We know that further action is needed to accelerate progress towards Scotland's ambitious waste prevention and recycling targets, to tackle our throwaway culture and to scale up and mainstream circular economy business models in Scotland. Investment is a key part of this, and has the potential to unlock local reprocessing investments, create jobs and a ready supply of recycled material for new packaging. It is part of building a fully circular economy in Scotland, which will drive materials up the waste hierarchy and keep them in high value use for as long as possible.

The £70 million Recycling Improvement Fund continues to invest in local authority recycling infrastructure. Since it was launched in March 2021, over £53 million has been awarded to 17 local authorities to increase the quantity and quality of recycling. As one of the biggest investments in recycling in Scotland in a generation, we are funding more frequent recycling services and collections of new materials, the expansion of food and garden waste collections to new areas, boosting Scotland's capacity to recycle soft plastics and films, and local service redesigns to align with Scotland's Household Recycling Charter. This landmark investment is making it easier for households to make the right recycling choices, and make an important contribution to meeting Scotland's waste, recycling and climate targets. The projects announced to date have the potential to reduce CO2e emissions by 49,000 tonnes each year - the equivalent of taking 26,000 cars off the road.

The fund remains open to all local authorities to develop and submit applications for funding, and we will provide further updates on investment in Scotland's recycling infrastructure throughout the lifetime of the fund, which runs until 2025-26. Local authorities across Scotland are encouraged to continue to apply to the fund, to help drive improvements to recycling and better services in their area and across Scotland.

The Scottish Government is working in partnership with COSLA (Convention of Scottish Local Authorities), SOLACE (Scottish Branch of the Society of Local Authority Chief Executives) and Zero Waste Scotland to deliver the fund. More information on the aims, scope and distribution of the fund is available at Zero Waste Scotland.

A summary of responses to the consultation (21 January and 15 April 2022) on plans for the introduction of a mandatory digital waste tracking service in the UK was published on 15 December 2022. Funding has been allocated to support SEPA (Scottish Environment Protection Agency) with implementation of waste tracking in Scotland. The ambition is to provide a step change in the quality and timeliness of data on waste and resource flows, to support decision-making. By making it easier to identify opportunities to reduce the waste produced and reuse the materials we consume, this will support our transition to a circular economy.

Work to accelerate landfill gas capture in Scotland was a new boosted policy, as outlined in the recent Climate Change Plan update, working with SEPA and key industry partners to scale up the existing landfill gas capture programme to mitigate effects of landfill and environmental impact of closed landfill sites. This is supported by additional funding from the Low Carbon Fund with the aim to harness the energy generated from landfill gas capture and maximise circular economy opportunities. Due to other unavoidable resource implications, including COVID-19 contingency work, progress on this policy outcome was paused. We are reviewing plans and will take this forward in 2023-24.

We know that textile waste and throwaway culture have a disproportionate environmental impact - textile waste makes up just 4% of household waste but 32% of the carbon impacts. We have introduced a new Textile Innovation Fund, to support businesses working in this sector to address issues associated with textile waste and throwaway culture Circular Textiles Fund | Zero Waste Scotland.

Our Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) for single-use drinks containers (which will be implemented from 16 August 2023) and the UK-wide packaging extended producer responsibility reforms (to be implemented from 2024) are designed to increase the quantity and quality of recyclate, creating a significant economic opportunity and providing greater incentives for domestic reprocessing. Through DRS, we expect a number of collection and sorting centres to be established across Scotland and, as part of extended producer responsibility reforms, funding will go from producers to local authorities to fund effective and efficient collection systems for packaging waste.

We are committed to introducing a Circular Economy Bill later in this current parliamentary session. The Circular Economy Bill will establish the legislative framework to support Scotland's transition to a zero waste and circular economy, significantly increase reuse and recycling rates, and modernise and improve waste and recycling services. Alongside the consultation on proposals for a Circular Economy Bill, we also published a consultation on a waste Route Map which sets out how we intend to deliver our system-wide, comprehensive vision for Scotland's circular economy. It outlines the tangible actions the Scottish Government and others must take to accelerate progress, and the tools we will put in place to enable everyone to play their part.

Boosting Resilience and Adaptation

Flood Risk Management

£42 million continues to be spent annually on reducing flood risk to properties and businesses. A number of flood protection schemes are under construction around Scotland. These include a £90 million scheme at Hawick which will reduce the risk of flooding to over 900 properties.

Updated flood risk management plans for Scotland were approved by Scottish

Ministers on 22 December 2021. These plans produced by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) in partnership with responsible authorities, identify flood management actions for over 440 priority communities. This work is split into six year cycles and covers a range of actions including furthering the understanding of climate change impacts, increasing community resilience, and developing and implementing flood protection scheme. Local Flood Risk Management Plans were published at the end of December 2022 and give further details on how the actions set out in the Management Plans published by SEPA will be implemented.

An additional £150 million was allocated to flooding in 2020 and £31 million of this was allocated to local authorities in 2021-2022 and 2022-2023 to take forward work on flood protection schemes. Consideration is being given to how the remaining £119 million will be allocated. The joint Scottish Government/COSLA (Convention of Scottish Local Authorities) Flood Risk Management Working Group, set up in 2021, is considering funding arrangements for flood risk management actions going forward. This group will consider and make recommendations to Ministers on the funding arrangements in 2023.

Coastal change

The Dynamic Coast 2 project, which assessed coastal erosion and accretion rates along our coastline was published in August 2021. It investigates how already increasing erosion rates along soft coasts might be exacerbated by climate change sea level rise and identifies the assets that could be at risk.

Scottish Ministers and COSLA have agreed a methodology to distribute the new capital budget of £11.7 million for coastal change adaptation to coastal local authorities in 2022-23 and 2023-24 based on evidence from the Dynamic Coast 2 project. Further information can be found at Dynamic Coast. The Scottish Government will continue to work with councils and COSLA to agree a distribution methodology for 2024-25 and 2025-26 budgets.

Transport (Road Adaptation)

The programme of Trunk Road Adaptation Schemes to address the impacts of climate change, improve network efficiency, safety and resilience contributing to a low carbon economy, is progressing well. Over the funding period, Transport Scotland aim to deliver an estimated total investment of £60 million to drive inclusive economic growth and build resilient and sustainable places. Budget has been allocated from 2023-24 and will be utilised accordingly. A programme of projects across Scotland has been commenced with several schemes due to be delivered this financial year.

The fund enables significant value multidisciplinary schemes to be progressed, ranging from specific roads schemes to joint schemes that interface with rail, sea and active travel. Schemes contribute to economic development by improving connectivity, journey time reliability and safety of the road network, which includes a number of geotechnical improvements in complex locations across the north of Scotland.

Over the next three years, the fund will contribute to a number of high-profile schemes across Scotland including, concluding the short term mitigation works at the A83 Rest and Be Thankful (summer 2023), the new Lhanbryde Cycleway as well as the A893 Ullapool Harbour and Shore Street upgrades (summer 2023). In addition, there are planned non-motorised unit improvements on the A9 Raigmore Interchange and working with Highland Council. Trunk road widening of key pinch points on the network will be progressed for the A86, A95 and A889. These schemes will provide safety and active travel improvements.

As well as large notable projects, the fund also allows smaller improvements to be made to the network. These often provide significant betterment to existing outdated provisions such as linking cycle paths / footways, review of Vehicle Restraint Systems, and layby upgrading/provision. This contributes to reliability and road safety for transport of goods, general travel and connectivity across Scotland.

Investing in our Natural Capital

New planting and forest expansion

The Forestry and Land Scotland (FLS) Acquisition Strategy sets out the principles under which FLS will use both the £30 million of Scottish Government low carbon funding and the FLS strategic funds to acquire land in order to grow Scotland's national forests and land.

Utilising these funds in 2022-23, FLS acquired 3,700 hectares (ha) of new land at a total cost of just over £20.9 million. Roughly half of this land will be plantable for trees with the remainder being managed for peatland / habitat restoration and/or ecological/recreational outcomes.

Stepped increases in new planting targets remain with the aim of achieving 18,000 ha planting in 2024-25. Annual targets are: 2022-23 15,000 ha, 2023-24 16,500 ha and 2024-25 18,000 ha.

Scottish Forestry have approved claims for 12,800 ha of new woodland creation in 2022-23, however actual planting achieved will not be confirmed until July 2023. It is anticipated that planting will be below the target due to various factors including capacity and skills challenges in the forestry sector and a drop in the quality of applications. However, within this it is expected that 4,000 ha of native woodland planting will be achieved as set out in the Bute House agreement.

In addition to tackling the supply-side capacity constraints, our work on Forestry Grant Scheme (FGS) Enhancements should increase demand for woodland creation, through increased applications for Trees on Farms and riparian plantings and through improved community engagement leading to faster application processing. Although the impact of these improvements is still to be quantified, they should have a positive effect on the pipeline of future projects.


Peatland restoration continues to be progressed across Scotland through the work of our current delivery partners (NatureScot (Peatland Action), Forestry and Land Scotland, Cairngorms National Park, Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park and Scottish Water). As per latest figures (until February 2023) during 2022-23, around 7,500 hectares of degraded peatland were put on the road to recovery. This number will be confirmed later in 2023 once the required quality assurance is completed.

In October 2021, a new Scottish Government Peatland Programme was established. The Programme will develop and deliver policies which: protect peatlands, limiting negative impacts from extraction and development; restore degraded peatlands to reduce carbon emissions and support restoration of unique peatland habitats and landscapes; and manage peatlands holistically and sustainably within the context of a changing climate.

Within this new programme, we continue to work with our partners to understand and address the structural, operational and resourcing challenges around significantly upscaling rates of restoration.

Working with delivery partners, we will upscale the rate of peatland restoration in 2023-24. The governance structure of the Peatland Programme has expanded to include a Scientific Advisory Technical Group (led by Rural and Environment Science and Analytical Services Division), Horizontal Functions group, and Peatland Skills, Capacity and Training Group. These groups will work to identify and address barriers to peatland restoration including evidence on techniques and monitoring, contractor capacity and skills gaps. Looking ahead, we will also explore a range of funding models including increased private finance, to accelerate delivery of peatland restoration in Scotland.

In addition to the progress on restoring degraded peatland, we are also working to develop a suite of policies that prevent exploitation of peatland through extraction. The National Planning Framework 4 (NPF4) makes clear that proposals for new commercial peat extraction, including extensions to existing sites, are not supported except in very limited circumstances. In our 2021-22 Programme for Government, we set out our commitment to consult on a ban on the sale of peat-related gardening products as part of our wider commitment to phase out the use of peat in horticulture. The consultation on ending the sale of peat in Scotland ( was published on 17 February 2023 and will inform ambitious timescales for banning the sale of peat in Scotland.

We have also developed, in partnership with Environmental Systems, a digital portal. This is designed to help project developers, policy makers and researchers to gather information about the condition of peatland across Scotland and support site selection and design of future peatland restoration projects. It is available here:

Low Carbon Vacant and Derelict Land Investment Programme

The £50 million Low Carbon Vacant and Derelict Land Investment Programme (VDLIP) is a capital programme to help with tackling persistent vacant and derelict land. It is supporting place based approaches to delivering regeneration and sustainable inclusive growth as part of a 'just transition' to net-zero by 2045. It is a competitive fund open to all 32 local authorities and the Clyde Gateway URC (Urban Regeneration Company). Scotland currently has more than 11,000 hectares of registered vacant and derelict land which offers significant potential to be brought back to positive use to the benefit of communities. This fund supports projects that prioritise such sites and protect our existing natural capital. This ensures that future infrastructure investment goes into areas where it is needed the most, stimulating economic growth; creating jobs; promoting environmental justice and supporting communities to flourish and tackle inequalities.

In September 2021, 10 successful projects were announced to receive a total of £5 million from the first round of funding for financial year 2021-22. In May 2022, a further 10 successful projects were announced representing an additional £5 million of funding and in February 2023, a further 15 successful projects were announced for 2023-24 with a total award value of £9.3 million. Successful projects can be viewed at Low Carbon Fund: Vacant and Derelict Land Investment Programme projects

We will issue an invitation for further applications for round 4 of the fund for the financial year 2024-25 in April 2023. The two-stage application process will take place over the summer and autumn with successful projects being announced in early 2024.



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