Climate change adaptation programme: progress report 2023

Fourth annual progress report on "Climate Ready Scotland: Scotland’s Climate Change Adaptation Programme 2019 to 2024".

7. Progress on SCCAP2 'Supporting Systems' outcome

SCCAP2 Outcome 4: Our society's supporting systems are resilient to climate change

This outcome has two sub-outcome considering devolved and reserved infrastructure and the interdependencies between these infrastructure systems.

Examples of progress on cross-cutting policies in support of this outcome

Climate change considerations in civil contingencies risk – Climate change considerations continue to be factored into civil contingencies risk assessment. This is done by civil contingencies risk authors (Scottish Government policy teams and National Agencies such as SEPA and the UK Met Office) considering the broad context that impacts our safety, security and essential services, and assessing civil contingencies risk likelihood and impact based on that broad context. The civil contingencies risk assessment is used by Scottish responders to assist development of effective civil emergency plans and procedures, and provide a basis for risk communication to the general public. The current SRA includes six risk assessments themed around major impacts from climate change, as well as a dedicated climate change overview chapter.

Examples of progress on policies in support of sub-outcome that: "Scotland's devolved supporting systems are resilient to climate change"

The National Transport Strategy 2 – The NTS2 was published 5 February 2020 and sets out our vision for Scotland's transport system over the next 20 years: 'a sustainable, inclusive, safe, and accessible transport system helping deliver a healthier, fairer, and more prosperous Scotland for communities, businesses, and visitors'. This vision is underpinned by four priorities: to reduce inequalities, to take climate action, to help deliver inclusive economic growth and to improve health and wellbeing. The NTS sets the context for transport for the Climate Change Plan and for Scottish Ministers future transport investment priorities over the next 20 years including the NTS outcome: "Will adapt to the effects of climate change".

Our second annual NTS Delivery Plan was published in 2022, outlining the actions the Scottish Government is taking to deliver its four priorities. The third Delivery Plan will be published later in 2023. Throughout 2022, we continued to develop Transport Scotland's Approach to Climate Change Adaptation & Resilience (ACCAR) which will primarily focus on infrastructure and services directly under TS control, it will also provide recommendations on areas where TS can influence decision making. Publication of the ACCAR is due in 2023.

Transport Scotland Vulnerable Locations Groups – In 2022-2023, our Vulnerable Locations Groups have continued to delivery strategic direction for adaptation within our Roads Directorate and delivery of schemes through a Pilot Adaptation Programme to ensure the Trunk Road Network is well adapted to climate change. Schemes delivered through this programme seek to go 'beyond maintenance' and adapt the network to the current and future impacts of climate change and aim to deliver a safe, reliable, and resilient Trunk Road Network.

Landslide mitigation resilience measures on the Trunk Road – Transport Scotland has issued a final report in 2022 on review of recommendations from the Implementation Report in the light of the landslide events at A83 Rest and Be Thankful during August and October 2020 and the continued instability at this location. This report briefly outlines the known at-risk sites on the Scottish Trunk Road Network (TRN), the actions that have been taken and to propose and prioritise a first tranche of sites for further investigation of the associated hazards and risks. Seven sites are provisionally identified for action over the next three years and a number of other sites will be the subject of consultation with the north-west Operating Company, Forest and Land Scotland, and Network Rail during 2022-2023.

Tree planting on the slope above A83 Rest and Be Thankful to stabilise the soils is progressing with fencing operations completed in 2021 and Forestry and Land Services successfully completed a planting trial in December 2021. The main planting operation and monitoring is programmed started in 2022 to be continued throughout 2023. A further three rock slopes are scheduled to be designed and remediated in 2023. Programmed landslide research has continued. Follow-up research on Managing Hazardous Slopes is in progress and research on Boulder Hazards started in 2021 to be completed in 2023. Liaison with Forestry and Land Services' steep ground operations has continued, with specific focus on the planned felling programme along the A82 at Loch Ness.

Programmed Landslide Research – Transport Scotland commissioned three research reports this year as part of the ongoing rock slope remediation programme, two of which have been published: "Managing Hazardous Slopes: High Resolution Panoramic Imagery for Monitoring Purposes"; and "Managing Hazardous Slopes: Innovative Monitoring Strategies for Managing Hazardous Slopes". This research contributes to our understanding of how to manage the increasing number of hazardous slopes in light of increased rainfall and extreme weather events.

Tools for managing wider risks to the transport network – The Transport Scotland Manual for the Management of the Risk of Unplanned Network Disruption has been updated to include the requirements of the NMC. Manual ownership now resides with Roads – Operations and the 2021 revision includes increased Flooding, Landslide and Wind Management Plan requirements. The Manual provides direction to Operating Companies on managing and mitigating the effects of disruptive events, such as those caused by the predicted increase in extreme weather events such as high winds, flooding, snow, and ice.

The four Operating Companies continue to develop and implement disruption risk processes which are informed by the formal recording of all previous events, as they occur. The on-going recording of events and subsequent revisions to the plans provides a platform for early detection of changing conditions that may have an impact on the network. Furthermore, the manual includes a Disruption Risk Assessment Tool, which provides a robust and objective framework within which to analyse patterns of events, and their locations, in order to support decision-making and identify particularly vulnerable locations and assets. This should be used to drive investment to address disruption events that already occur and also those which might emerge or increase in frequency and severity in the future.

Landscape management around trunk roads – As part of the delivery of the combined measures for landslide mitigation resilience on the A83, Transport Scotland is working in partnership with Forestry and Land Scotland (FLS) to establishment a native broadleaved woodland on the steep slopes of Beinn Luibhean, directly above the road. The project is now into Phase 2 of the 2-stage planting programme which aims to be complete by early 2024. The works have included the innovative use of drone technology to seed the more inaccessible parts of the slope. A comprehensive monitoring strategy for the project is being managed in partnership with Forest Research, encompassing a range of technological and scientific approaches to assess soil/ground movement and saturation, and to monitor the establishment and impact of the woodland. It is anticipated this impact will extend beyond the potential stabilisation of the slope and regulation of surface water flow and include enhanced habitat connectivity through the glen and down to Ardgarten and Loch Long and increase opportunities for a net gain in local biodiversity.

Further to the works on the A83, Transport Scotland has embarked on the first stages of introducing new areas of native woodland planting on areas of surplus land associated with the trunk road network – this can include non-operational land or areas that were acquired during the road construction process. The intention is to make best use of these areas by developing parcels of broadleaved trees using native species that will help sequester carbon whilst also increasing local biodiversity and improving habitat connectivity, both within the trunk road boundary and to adjacent habitats.

Transport Scotland recognises that a natural capital approach is key to understanding our dependence on natural resources - for provisioning, regulating, supporting, and cultural services. The agency is currently developing and testing a model for establishing a natural capital baseline assessment of the trunk road network, with a corresponding set of accounts capable of regular updating, with the opportunity of being mainstreamed in future decision making. The baseline will incorporate a biodiversity assessment to provide an integrated framework for delivering positive outcomes for biodiversity across all the agency's operations, leading to opportunities for biodiversity net gain, in line with the emerging Scottish Government approach.

There is also a recognition that climate change is having a profound impact on native species including the related spread of invasive non-native species (INNS) and the increasing occurrences and severity of pathogens and diseases. Transport Scotland is actively managing the impact of tree disease through concerted liaison with bodies such as the Tree Council and Scottish Forestry. The operating companies responsible for the management and maintenance of the Trunk Road Network have undertaken ash surveys throughout 2020-2021 to establish a database of the ash resource and the spread/impact of the disease. The trees have been categorised according to the level of risk they present to infrastructure and the public, and a programme of works focusing on the highest risk trees/areas is underway. A phased felling programme based on a risk assessment approach is being delivered and is ongoing, together with the rollout of a recovery phase to implement tree planting of appropriate species to replace the lost resource.

Preparing the Scottish road network for severe weather events – The Met Office has completed an analytical study, which had been commissioned by Transport Scotland, Assessing the wind hazard along the Scottish road network. This bespoke assessment informed the revision of the Transport Scotland High Wind Strategy and National Wind Management Guidelines which, like the current version, will be made available to all roads authorities as the scope of work extended to the complete A-class road network, over and above all Trunk Roads and motorways. The Wind Management Variable Message Signs (VMS) Project, which is a key component in the strategy to manage the impacts of high winds, has progressed with the installation of a new weather station on the Tyne Bridge on the A1 now linked to VMS. Additional VMS have been installed on the approaches to Friarton and Erskine Bridges to support wind management with further sites in development.

ScotRail Climate Change Adaptation Plan – Network Rail published its updated Weather Resilience and Climate Change Adaptation Plan for CP6 (2019-2024) in 2020. This forms one element of Network Rail's Sustainable Rail Strategy which is being delivered by Network Rail with governance oversight from Transport Scotland. Both organisations continue to work closely, with cross-working that includes sharing best practice between rail and Transport Scotland's environment teams more focussed on the roads network. ScotRail has also published on its website a high level Climate Change Adaptation Strategy. Reflecting the Team Scotland approach in working collaboratively with Network Rail and Transport Scotland to ensure resilience of the network and identify adaptation interventions. Transport Scotland has provided policy direction for ScotRail Trains Ltd to continue and build upon this work through an environmental sustainability strategy when it came into public ownership in April 2022.

Private Water Supplies – The recast EU Drinking Water Directive came into force on 12 January 2021 which introduces a number of new requirements including obligations on access to water. The Scottish Government has already aligned with parts of this legislation through The Public Water Supplies (Scotland)(Amendment) Regulations 2022 and intends to align with the remainder. Policy work continues to assess how Scotland should align with the remaining parts of the Directive to best protect public health.

Drought is affecting Scotland with East Scotland experiencing the driest January on record since 1940 in 2022. However, drought has affected many parts of Scotland in recent years with increasing numbers of Private Water Supplies (those owned/operated by their users) running dry. In response, the Scottish Government has supported affected households with an emergency scheme to provide bottled water highlighting the need for more resilient drinking water supplies. The government is leading a pilot project with the assistance of Scottish Water, Aberdeenshire Council and Consumer Scotland, to understand what opportunities are available to extend the public water networks to connect with households reliant on private supplies. £20 million will be invested to support this programme.

Examples of progress on policies in support of sub-outcome that "Scotland's reserved supporting systems are resilient to climate change

Reporting on adaptation and climate preparedness in the reserved infrastructure sector – The UK Climate Change Act's Adaptation Reporting Power (ARP) gives the UK government the discretionary power to require relevant bodies to report on their climate preparedness. Following the third round of ARP reporting in 2021, the UK Government consulted on a fourth round of ARP reporting between February-April 2023.

Reaching 100% Programme – The Reaching 100% (R100) programme continues to deliver critical infrastructure across Scotland. The £600 million R100 contracts have delivered over 16,600 connection, the vast majority of which are gigabit-capable, far exceeding our superfast commitment. The contracts will continue to deliver full fibre connectivity in the years ahead thanks, in part, to further investment by both the Scottish and UK Governments that will extend the reach of the contracts to a further 2,600 rural properties. During 2022, sixteen (16) new fibre subsea cables were laid which will provide future-proofed, resilient connectivity to 15 Scottish islands for decades to come.

Scottish 4G Infill Programme – The Scottish Government's £28.75 million Scottish 4G Infill programme (S4GI) is improving Scotland's mobile connectivity by delivering future-proofed mobile infrastructure and services to 55 so-called 'notspots' (areas where no mobile coverage is available from any mobile network operator) in rural and island communities, from the Scottish Borders to Shetland and Orkney. As of February 2023, 32 sites are now live and delivering 4G services, with a pipeline of further site activations to follow through to the programme's completion in spring 2023.

How the Adaptation Scotland Programme is supporting this outcome:

Major infrastructure operators, owners and agencies including Transport Scotland, Scottish Water and local authorities are continuing to work with Adaptation Scotland to use the Adaptation Capability Framework and mature their approaches to climate change adaptation. Transport Scotland has used Framework to inform the development of their adaptation plan and will use the benchmarking tool to evaluate progress.



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