First Green Growth Accelerator projects unveiled

The first projects to benefit from a Scottish Government programme driving investment in low carbon infrastructure have been announced.

First Green Growth Accelerator projects unveiled

Coming from five different local authority areas, the pathfinder projects - part of the Green Growth Accelerator programme - range from the development of hydrogen hubs to the restoration of peatland and energy efficiency upgrades of buildings.

The pathfinder projects are: 

  • Aberdeen City Council - Hydrogen Programme – includes portable hydrogen refuelling module, expansion of hydrogen bus fleet, conversion of refuse collection vehicles and development of solar farm.
  • Comhairle nan Eilean Siar - Net Zero Hub – hydrogen production infrastructure and equipment. 
  • City of Edinburgh Council – EnerPHit - upgrades to up to 12 council buildings, using the EnerPHit energy and comfort standard approach. 
  • Highland Council - Climate Action Coastlines - research and implementation of natural coastal adaptation solutions, including tree planting, peatland restoration, sand dune strengthening, saltmarsh restoration, and floodplain development. 
  • North Lanarkshire Council - Green Park, Green Power, Green Neighbourhood - retrofit of the Watersports Centre at Strathclyde Park, water source heat pump using Strathclyde Loch and installation of solar PV canopies to provide electricity for the heat pump, lighting, and EV charging. 

The Scottish Government will provide up to £1 million to support the pathfinders through the development phase of the programme, which together could unlock £40m of local government investment in green infrastructure, backed by long term Scottish Government funding commitments. Future funding commitments will be based on the achievement of project outcomes including carbon emissions reductions and green economy opportunities. 

The Green Growth Accelerator programme, developed with the support of the Scottish Futures Trust, was launched to provide a catalyst for public and private investment in low carbon infrastructure projects across Scotland.

The Scottish Government will work with COSLA and Local Authorities to learn from the pathfinders ahead of a further rollout of the programme in 2022/23, with an ultimate aim to unlock £200m of low carbon capital investment, underpinned by government funding.  

Just transition minister Richard Lochhead said: “Scotland’s just transition to a net zero economy must involve bold, ambitious and collective action to deliver emissions reduction and climate resilience whilst doing so in a way that is fair for everyone and leaves no-one behind.

“The Green Growth Accelerator illustrates how, working collaboratively across government, business and communities, we can capitalise on the economic, environmental and social benefits that our journey to net-zero present.

“The pathfinder projects have real potential to deliver lasting and long-term benefits for local communities and I look forward to them progressing and, in doing so, testing and demonstrating how we can continue to work together to accelerate vital investment in green infrastructure.”

Cllr Steven Heddle, COSLA environment and economy spokesperson, said: “Local Government in Scotland is fully committed to combatting climate change and supporting the Just Transition to a net zero society. We are therefore pleased that the green growth accelerator pilot projects announced today demonstrate the range of work being undertaken by Councils to reduce emissions.

“Local action is critical for addressing the climate emergency and doing this in a just and fair way. The work of Local Government can help keep your home warm for less; can help make public transport more available and accessible; can help make running an electric car easier; can help you reduce waste and recycle and can help support local towns and businesses so that you have shops and services closer to where you live.

“The Green Growth Accelerator model offers a new way of funding projects designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions which can build on the good work already being carried out by Local Authorities. COSLA is committed to supporting and developing the model further with Scottish Government and Scottish Futures Trust so that more projects in future can be funded.”

David McIntosh, associate director at the Scottish Futures Trust, said: “Working closely with Scottish Government and public sector partners, the Scottish Futures Trust has played a critical role in engaging with local authorities to bring forward and develop innovative Green Growth Accelerator proposals that will support a fairer, greener future for all and deliver Scottish Government’s net zero ambition.” 

The Growth Accelerator model has been used to support the St James Centre in Edinburgh and Dundee V&A and Waterfront projects. The Growth Accelerator is a payment-by-results mechanism, where the Government and Local Authorities pre-agree a series of outcomes which, if met, release Government funding to underpin the investment made by the Local Authority or partners to deliver the project.

Welcomed the announcement of up to £10m of investment for Edinburgh, council leader Adam McVey said: “The age, range, and complexity of the council’s operational estate means the costs of retrofitting large operational buildings to become net zero is significant.

“This is more than just an investment in the council’s buildings. It’s an investment in the local supply chain, developing green construction skills and creating jobs.

“This has been made possible thanks to £500,000 of additional funding we agreed in May to improve the council estate. It’s a fantastic example of how investing in climate action can bring benefits to the whole city and support a just transition to net zero.”

The 12 buildings in Edinburgh will be retrofitted to be more energy efficient and to facilitate the deployment of low/zero carbon heating primary plant. The improvements will lower the total amount of energy used in the buildings and minimise their carbon emissions.

The initial £1m investment in the city, part of a suite of government funding across Scotland, follows on from the council investing £500,000 in one off, additional funding in May to improve council estate carbon performance by identifying shovel-ready projects.

The government funding will be used to unlock local low carbon capital investment in Edinburgh and encourage the creation of new local jobs and skills.

Depute council leader Cammy Day added: “The council alone owns more than 600 buildings across Edinburgh, of which around 40% were built within the last 50 years. A further 30% are more than 100 years old. This presents significant challenges when looking to make them more energy efficient and reduce their impact on the environment.

“Retrofitting buildings across the city, whether private homes or public and commercial office spaces, has the potential to deliver significant savings in the city’s greenhouse gas emissions and help Edinburgh meet its target of net zero by 2030.

“This investment will provide huge opportunity to invest in net zero action and ensure our young people inherit a thriving, sustainable city which is a cleaner and healthier place to live and work.”

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