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SFT targets place-based solutions to deliver net-zero infrastructure and inclusive economic growth

Funding and financing of new net-zero infrastructure and excellence in delivery for clients, industry and communities amongst SFT’s priorities for 2022/23

The Scottish Futures Trust (SFT) has published its Business Plan for 2022/23 laying out its priorities for the year ahead.

Working with its many key partners from the infrastructure, construction and finance industries as well as local and central Government, SFT is focused on improving the economic, social and environmental outcomes from Scotland’s infrastructure.

For the year ahead, SFT will be:

  • Delivering public sector buildings that are greener in the construction phase and more energy-efficient when in use
  • Developing long-term financial and delivery models to accelerate new net-zero infrastructure that includes heat networks that can help reduce fuel poverty as well as delivering electric vehicle charge points for sustainable travel
  • Collaborating on innovation in modern methods of construction for affordable, energy-efficient homes to catalyse transformation in the construction sector as well as delivering quality homes for people and communities
  • Leading a digital pathfinder project to deliver partnerships between mobile network operators and local authorities to increase economic benefits from improved 4G and 5G coverage.
  • Supporting place-based strategies and investment decisions that strengthen communities, requiring bespoke approaches to be developed in collaboration with partners ranging from Scotland’s largest cities to the islands. 

Through these initiatives, and its wider programmes of work, as Scotland’s infrastructure centre of expertise, SFT is set to build on its track record of unlocking billions of pounds of private capital investment and leading the delivery of education, healthcare, affordable housing and mobile communications programmes benefitting communities across Scotland.

SFT’s chief executive, Peter Reekie, said: “Despite the challenges of the past two years, significant progress continues to be made across Scotland and in many respects, the consequences of the pandemic have created further opportunities for sustainable economic growth and enabled a heightened focus on a net-zero transition.

“With more than £11bn worth of construction projects in the Construction Forecast pipeline Tool and a wide range of other critical infrastructure projects underway to ensure we continue to develop resilient and sustainable places, we believe SFT and its partners are playing a central role in delivering sustainable economic growth for Scotland.”

Mr Reekie continued: “Our work to create the right infrastructure conditions for success that works for places across Scotland is being realised while also demonstrating how collaboration among like-minded organisations with creative use of funding sources is making a real and lasting difference.

“This collaboration is reflected across the hundreds of infrastructure projects and programmes that our teams at SFT are involved in throughout the country.

“Our teams at SFT, who work across 14 workstream activities, come from many different professional backgrounds and it’s their individual infrastructure expertise that help us to deliver the outcomes that SFT was established to pursue for Scotland.

“In the coming year, they are focusing on continuing to build on this culture of innovation and collaboration and making the most of the opportunities for sustainable economic growth and net zero transition.”

SFT has already made significant achievements across its diverse range of workstreams. Its hub programme alone supports more than 5,000 jobs, over 1,100 new apprentices, and has delivered over 120 education and 80 healthcare facilities, 20 housing projects and numerous other civic facilities, with 70% of public sector organisations active participants in the programme.

The supply chains serving the hub programme for community infrastructure development projects are also extensive with 80% of hub work delivered by Scottish SMEs which are widely considered the lifeblood of Scotland’s business landscape.

Among SFT’s key priorities for 2022/23 are:

EV infrastructure

SFT will work with Transport Scotland, public bodies and the private sector to accelerate the roll out of more EV chargepoints to support public charging and public sector fleet charging as well as engage with stakeholders within the bus industry (especially operators and financiers) to accelerate the transition to zero emission buses

Digital infrastructure

SFT will build on the ongoing success of the Scottish 4G infill programme to provide 4G coverage to many more rural communities. The programme has already seen 28 masts completed and another 17 under construction.

SFT’s focus to facilitate private investment involves a high degree of collaboration with industry to attract investment in international connectivity and data centres to Scotland.

The team will also deliver the pioneering Infralink Exchange project to demonstrate an operational Digital Connectivity Infrastructure Accelerator data platform that promotes an approach to productising public sector assets. This is being developed in collaboration with Dundee, Angus, Fife, and Perth & Kinross local authorities to focus on improving digital connectivity together with mobile network operators who can deliver it.

District heat networks including supporting the expansion of the West Dunbartonshire Energy Centre

Through its Net Zero workstreams, SFT is supporting local authorities and other public bodies by providing its expertise to projects in heat networks. West Dunbartonshire Energy Centre is Scotland’s largest water source heat pump installation, and it provides heat for local businesses through a network of insulated pipes which provides an alternative to fossil fuels like gas for heating.

Fully operational since 2020, the project is to be extended to other buildings, around 1,200 homes and potentially NHS Clydebank health and care centre which was built through SFT’s hub community infrastructure development programme. When completed, the project alone will save more than 4,000 tonnes of CO2 each year.

Resilient and sustainable places

Working in collaboration across numerous public bodies, SFT’s asset strategy team is setting out a route-map towards a blended, future-focussed hybrid office estate which builds on learning from the impact of COVID-19 on distributed working.

The team’s recent focus on the promotion of smarter working practices for more effective and efficient estates has meant many more organisations have been able to respond well to the pandemic. The team works in rural, town, and city locations across Scotland on programmes, projects, and initiatives to progress the culture, practice, and benefits of place-based and the collaborative use of public buildings.

The SFT team will continue to support the delivery of Scottish Government's National Islands Plan. by providing expertise, resource and capabilities. The Islands Programme represents £30m of capital investment over five years across Scotland's six local authorities with inhabited islands - Shetland Islands Council, Orkney Islands Council, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar (Western Isles), Argyll and Bute Council, Highland Council and North Ayrshire Council.