Chapter 4: Progress towards "our society's supporting systems being resilient to climate change"
Communities across Scotland depend on our infrastructure networks, encompassing the supply networks of energy, water, communications (including digital), roads and rail, and also the service delivery areas of government, health and emergency services.
Much of this infrastructure is critical, providing lifeline services to Scotland's communities and businesses, particularly those located in Scotland's remote Highlands and Islands. At present, many of these networks and services are heavily affected by the COVID-19 crisis and the immediate focus is on supporting them in this context. The Scottish Government is then committed to delivering a green recovery and infrastructure will be central to this. The independent expert advice published by the Committee on Climate Change on 6 May identifies, as one of its guiding principles for a resilient recovery, the importance during this phase of avoiding 'lock-in' to higher emissions or increased vulnerability to climate change impacts over the long term.
In Scotland, some parts of infrastructure are devolved to the Scottish Government, while some remain reserved to the UK Government. The present update focuses on progress in the devolved policy areas only. It is also noted that the built-environment is largely considered under chapter 1.
Progress on cross-cutting policies in support of this outcome
Infrastructure Commission and Infrastructure Investment Plan - The Infrastructure Commission published its first report - A Blueprint for Scotland - in January 2020, which calls on the Scottish Government to tackle the dual challenges of a climate emergency and creating an inclusive growth economy. The Commission is preparing a second report this year on the delivery of infrastructure. The Scottish Government has taken the decision to delay the publication of the Infrastructure Investment Plan (IIP) in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. The IIP will set out how we are using our investment to help us respond to the challenges of COVID-19, and the economic recovery that will be so important to us all. We will keep the publication date under review as the current situation progresses.
Examples of progress to transport policies in support of this outcome
The National Transport Strategy 2 - The second National Transport Strategy was published in February 2020 and sets out the future direction for transport in Scotland. The vision is that "we will have a sustainable, inclusive, safe and accessible transport system helping deliver a healthier, fairer and more prosperous Scotland for communities, businesses and visitors". The Strategy and its policies will ensure that the resilience of the transport network is enhanced so that future transport projects deal effectively with predicted climate changes, and that the existing transport system is adapted to deal with increased rainfall, more frequent high winds and rising temperatures.
Scottish Road Network Landslide Study and Implementation Report - The review of recommendations for the Implementation Report is now complete. Mitigation works have continued at A83 Rest and Be Thankful and on selected A82 rock slopes. A programme of research into slope monitoring and landslide management has continued, again focussed on the A83 Rest and Be Thankful, with reports being published as they become available. A Quantitative Risk Assessment of the A82 Glencoe is in progress, with a report expected later this year. Following the success of the 2019 landslide workshop to disseminate research findings amongst key stakeholders, a further workshop is proposed when circumstances for such an event are more favourable.
Other Transport Scotland work in preparing for severe weather events - To improve incident management best practice, enhance road-worker safety and to improve roadside information, Transport Scotland is taking forward an action plan of installing Variable Message Signs at strategic locations on the trunk road network affected by high winds. Works commenced north of Inverness in 2019 in the first phase of our construction programme. We have also commissioned a strategic corridor assessment of the A1 in relation to high wind management alongside a full review of standard incident diversion routes within the South-East Unit.
Examples of progress to water policies in support of this outcome
Scottish Water Surface Water Policy - In June 2018, Scottish Water signed a Sustainable Growth Agreement with SEPA, under the terms of which they will work together to explore new and innovative ways to manage resilience in rural and urban drainage catchments. Through a partnership of Glasgow City Council, Scottish Canals and Scottish Water under the umbrella of the Metropolitan Glasgow Strategic Drainage Partnership, construction of Europe's first ever 'smart canal' commenced in May 2018. The project will use sensors, predictive weather technology and active management of the canal to lower water levels, creating space for surface water run-off. Scottish Water have also joined with SEPA, the Scottish Government and local authorities to form the Edinburgh and Lothians Strategic Drainage Partnership to develop innovative and integrated solutions to manage rainwater, flooding, flood risk and growth.
Blue-Green Infrastructure - The Scottish Government is working together with Scottish Water, SEPA, local authorities and other stakeholders under the Blue-Green Cities Programme for Government commitment to develop approaches to drainage which will reduce the burden on the sewerage systems and lessen surface water flooding. By retaining more water in watercourses and soils and developing above ground drainage networks, we can improve the environment, supporting biodiversity while increasing leisure and activity potential. We will build on examples of work underway in Glasgow and elsewhere to establish new pilots of the Blue-Green cities approach. The Social Housing and Green Infrastructure project is funded by the Scottish Government and SNH, and supported by Architecture & Design Scotland and the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations. Three pilots are developing designs that maximise the benefits of green infrastructure in social housing. The pilots will provide lessons for the wider housing sector around the design, integration and procurement of multifunctional green infrastructureand lead to more opportunities for people to connect with nature near where they live.
Private Water Supplies - Climate change means changes to rainfall amounts and distribution and a more frequent occurrence of prolonged dry periods such as that in 2018 and the one we are experiencing in spring 2020. The North East of Scotland, which has the greatest number of private water supplies, is at greatest risk of drought although other parts of upland Scotland are also at risk. Scotland has over 22,000 private water supplies which provide drinking water to nearly four per cent of the population. They are vital to many rural and remote communities. The Scottish Government has convened a working group (with meetings in January and April 2020) to advise Ministers on the measures that should be put in place to strengthen the resilience of these drinking water supplies.
Examples of progress to emergency services policies in support of this outcome
Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) Climate Change Response Plan 2045 - Published in February 2020, the Response Plan sets out how the SFRS will respond to climate change in terms of supporting communities in adapting as well as reducing the service's own carbon emissions.
Climate Hazards and Vulnerabilities Risk Screening Tool for Healthcare Assets - The Toolkit was completed in February 2020 and will enable NHS staff, when appropriate, to identify the climate change risks associated with their key sites and also the surrounding infrastructure (e.g. road, railways, etc). It is expected that the application of the Risk Screening Tool will help NHS Boards in completing Climate Change Risk Assessment and Adaptation Plans (see chapter 2).
How the Adaptation Scotland programme is supporting this outcome
Both Transport Scotland and Scottish Water provided crucial input to support the development of the Adaptation Capability Framework. Both organisations are now collaborating with Adaptation Scotland to implement the framework, benchmark progress and share lessons learned.
Adaptation Scotland also supported the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service in preparing the Climate Change Response Plan discussed above.