Protecting Scotland, Renewing Scotland

BEFS Director reflects on the Government’s Programme for Scotland, highlighting areas of interest for the heritage sector.

Protecting Scotland, Renewing Scotland: The Government’s Programme for Scotland 2020-2021 was published on Tuesday. It covers the next seven months to March 2021. Neither heritage nor the historic environment are referred to directly within the programme but there are areas of direct and indirect interest.

Large sums of money are associated with low carbon recovery and active travel but these were already set out in the 20-21 Budget. Much focus remains on fuel poverty and retrofit, with one mention of repair and maintenance in relation to town centres. The low carbon economy does provide leverage for greater investment in the historic built environment and will hopefully be more fully addressed in the imminent Infrastructure Investment Plan, Review of the Town Centre Action Plan, and the update of the Climate Change Plan.

While it may be disappointing not to see the historic environment specifically referenced it is noteworthy that the overriding themes of inclusion, low carbon and localism are consistent with the findings of the recent meetings of the COVID Historic Environment Resilience Forum. The Scottish Government is further looking at the importance of regional networks, which also chimes with our ‘call for ideas’.

The following items are of direct interest:

  • Addressing Scotland’s colonial and slavery history
    Partnering with Museums Galleries Scotland, in collaboration with race equality and museums sector stakeholders, we will sponsor an independent expert group to make recommendations on how Scotland’s existing and future museum collections we can better recognise and represent a more accurate portrayal of Scotland’s colonial and slavery history and what further steps should be taken to ensure people in Scotland are aware of the role Scotland played and how that manifests itself in our society today. This will include how to reflect, interpret and celebrate the wide?ranging and positive contributions that ethnic minority communities have made and continue to make to Scotland.
  • The 20 minute neighbourhood
    We will also establish a Place Based Investment Programme, linking and aligning all place?based funding initiatives to ensure we have a coherent approach to effectively progress our 20 minute neighbourhood ambitions. As part of this Programme, we will invest £275 million to support community?led regeneration and town?centre revitalisation, including the repurposing of buildings, maintenance and repairs, reallocating external space and community?led land acquisition. This will also support the ongoing work on Clyde Gateway.
  • Community Development Trusts
    As recommended by the Social Renewal Advisory Board, we will also look to strengthen our support for community anchor organisations – like housing associations and community development trusts – that provide essential services with communities. We will use our Empowering Communities Programme to build on the learning from the COVID?19 response, strengthen the community anchor model and support its wider take up

The following also have implications for investment in, skills for, and management of the historic built environment:

  • Take forward our ambitions for 20 minute neighbourhoods – the creation of liveable, accessible places, with thriving local economies, where people can meet their daily needs within a 20 minute walk
  • Identify vacant and derelict sites for green infrastructure initiatives
  • £2 million Islands Green Recovery Programme
  • Introduce a network of regional hubs to empower communities to develop local solutions to making the transition to net?zero and climate resilient living
  • Develop a network of Climate Action Towns
  • Over the next Parliament we will invest nearly £1.6 billion in transforming our buildings to ensure that emissions from heating are eliminated by 2040 to remove poor energy efficiency as a driver of fuel poverty. The deal uplifts Heat and Energy efficiency spend from £112m in 2019/20 to £398m p.a. in 2025/26 and will include:  At least £95 million to decarbonise the public sector estate; Opening the £50 million Green Recovery Low Carbon Infrastructure Transition Programme (LCITP); Up to £50 million to invest in significant energy efficiency improvements to the Royal Botanic Gardens in Edinburgh; £25 million for zero carbon energy infrastructure and heat networks for residential and commercial premises along the river Clyde’s path; Additional £55 million to support scale up of energy efficiency programmes
  • Set out our vision and route map for transforming the way we heat Scotland’s buildings by publishing a draft Heat Policy Statement and refresh the Energy Efficient Scotland Route Map alongside the updated Climate Change Plan, to set out a clear pathway towards zero emissions from heat in buildings
  • Launch a scoping consultation in autumn 2020 on standards for new buildings requiring them to use renewable or zero emission heating from 2024
  • New £100 million Green Jobs fund, investing alongside a range of sectors – such as manufacturing, tech, and land based organisations – to support new and increased opportunities for green job creation across Scotland
  • £60 million Youth Guarantee including increased opportunities for ‘green’ apprenticeships across public sector bodies
  • A £25 million National Transition Training Fund aimed at bridging the skills gap between those facing unemployment and sectors with greatest potential for future growth, including focus on provision of green skills in areas of immediate demand like heat and energy efficiency
  • Develop a Green Workforce and Skills Development Package with an initial skills gap analysis undertaken by NatureScot
  • Publish the Climate Emergency Skills Action Plan
  • Create a Supply Chains Development Programme across key sectors of the economy, including where we see genuine sustainable economic potential or resilience for future pandemic waves.
  • We will develop tools and guidance to support a green recovery and our wider climate and circular economy ambitions through procurement
  • Continued funding for the Scottish Land Fund providing £10 million per year to help communities purchase assets