To: Professor Skea, Just Transition Commission
From: Màiri McAllan, Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Net Zero and Just Transition
Thank you for your letter of the 31st of May 2023. It was very helpful in setting out the Commission’s high-level views on our sectoral discussion papers and the scope of Just Transition Plans more broadly.
I would also like to thank the Commission for their ongoing constructive engagement with officials on many of these issues, reflected in the final versions of the discussion papers, published on 20 June. Your advice will continue to inform our ongoing work on the sectoral just transition plans.
Since publishing the papers, we have been undertaking a comprehensive engagement programme that will help form the development of our sectoral Just Transition Plans. Officials met with the Commission’s engagement sub-group to discuss this in more detail on August 17th.
Further to your advice of 31 May, you will have seen the published discussion papers regarding ‘Built Environment & Construction Just Transition Plan’ (BECJTP) and Land Use and Agriculture (LAJTP). I agree that heat decarbonisation and energy efficiency are interconnected: these issues will appear in both the Energy Strategy and Just Transition Plan (ESJTP) and the BECJTP. The finalised ESJTP can be expected to focus on aggregate demand from buildings. It will take a whole-system view, but signpost to more granular Just Transition related work elsewhere. The BECJTP is likely to focus more on heat, energy efficiency and retrofit from the perspective of households, businesses, and workers.
Regarding the advice you raised in your letter (15th February) to Mr. Lochhead, we will be seeking to apply the ten cross-cutting recommendations on the general preparations of Just Transition Plans as we continue their development, and these were applied during the development of our discussion papers.
Additional information was included within the LAJTP paper as suggested by yourselves, highlighting a ‘state of play’ not only within the direct land use and agricultural sectors but in our wider rural economy and communities. This was then supported by a plain English overview of the role that land use and agriculture plays in regard to climate change and the journey towards our net zero goal. This welcome suggestion has allowed the paper to present a baseline understanding which has, and will continue to, help support our engagement work.
Thank you for your comments regarding affordable housing and its place in the Just Transition plans. Access to safe, warm, and affordable housing is at the heart of our ambition for a fairer Scotland. We recognise the positive social and economic impact that investment in social and affordable housing contributes, and we are currently committed to delivering on our target of 110,000 affordable homes by 2032, of which at least 70% will be available for social rent and 10% will be in our remote, rural and island communities. Furthermore, all new homes delivered by Registered Social Landlords and local authorities will have zero direct emissions heating systems ahead of the 2024 regulations coming into force. This will not only accelerate the introduction of zero direct emissions heating systems but also avoid the cost and disruption of future retrofit of affordable homes.
Our commitment to providing affordable, warm, and sustainable housing is clear. Given the scale of work underway in this space, our judgement would be that explicitly including it as a workstream in just transition planning is not currently necessary. However, I will ensure my officials continue to keep in close contact with officials delivering our work towards the ‘Housing to 2040’ strategy to maximise any opportunities for joint working.
Officials are liaising with your Secretariat on a range of upcoming opportunities to share our progress and gather your insights. This includes timescales for providing a more substantive response to the comprehensive feedback the Commission provided on the draft ESJTP earlier in the year. I trust officials will be discussing this with you at your upcoming meeting on the ESJTP on 12 September and I look forward to meeting with you on the vital, cross-cutting issue of finance on 27 September.
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