AN INDEPENDENT specialist body should be set up to help steer infrastructure planning towards an inclusive, net-zero carbon economy, according to a final report by the Infrastructure Commission for Scotland presented to Scottish Government.

The commission said Scotland enshrining the “place principle” and implementing a “one public sector approach” to planning and developing sustainable communities are also key recommendations in the report.

Ian Russell, chair of the ICS, said: “Infrastructure has a vital role to play in the delivery of an inclusive, net-zero carbon economy and Covid-19 has amplified the need for urgent action and change for economic, social and natural infrastructure.

“The commission is recommending that an independent, specialist body be given responsibility for providing Government with strategic, long-term infrastructure advice and enshrining the place principle within planning practice.

"Collaboration between the public sector and the construction industry is crucial and therefore establishing a construction accord between the public sector and the construction industry is another vital recommendation in the commission’s report.”

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Michael Matheson, cabinet secretary for infrastructure, said the pandemic has “fundamentally changed every aspect of our lives”, adding: “Infrastructure will play a critical role in the years ahead as we plan our strategic economic recovery from the pandemic.

“I am grateful to the Infrastructure Commission for their hard work – no doubt made more challenging in recent months – to produce this comprehensive second report on the delivery of infrastructure. We shall now take time to consider its findings very carefully.

“The commission’s phase one report has already helped to shape our next five-year Infrastructure Investment Plan, details of which I look forward to announcing in September. This plan will incorporate a response to the commission’s phase one findings.”

The ICS, which was established in early 2019 to develop Scotland’s infrastructure strategy for the next 30 years, recognised net-zero carbon and an inclusive growth economy as two overarching policies that were priorities on both a national and global scale.

As such, these priorities were placed at the heart of its work and mark a sharp shift from the broad aim of overall policy convention to maximise GDP over the last 50 years.