10 ideas to help a green recovery

Steven Young ,
14 Aug 2020

Stephen Young, Head of Policy at Scottish Land & Estates, explores what we mean by ‘green recovery’ and 10 ideas which could help the economic downturn.

One of the most common phrases being used by policy makers currently is “green recovery”. Naturally this is in response to the economic downturn caused by the Covid-19 outbreak. However, its origins date further back to the Sottish Government declaring a climate emergency and seeking to support transition to a more sustainable economy.

In recent months we have responded to several calls for evidence and ideas from government and external bodies looking to define more clearly the best options for doing this. Most notably has been the Advisory Group on Economic Recovery, whose recommendations have been fully accepted by government and the Just Transition Commission who recently published their interim findings. Alongside this, many Holyrood committees have sought to hear views of businesses and individuals on how to implement a green recovery.

One thing is clear - land management will play a clear role within this process. The ability to enhance natural capital, whilst making best use of resources will be critical.

We have put forward several ideas which can help rural economies thrive, reduce the impact on the environment and involve minimal investment from public funding. Here’s our top 10:

  1. Planning regulations should take an enabling approach, particularly when looking at change of use for buildings as the economy changes. Similarly, the need for houses to be modified to include home offices and potentially rural office hubs to reduce the need for transport to workplaces.
  2. Local food should be encouraged, making best use of Scotland’s natural advantages in terms of grass conversion and reduction in transport emissions.
  3. Investment and ongoing support to ensure that primary processing in Scotland is sufficient and more of the value added by processing remains in Scotland. This in turn needs to be backed by public procurement policies which make use of this produce.
  4. Reduction in red tape and bureaucracy which can stifle innovation and growth, particularly looking at where technology can replace this while maintaining integrity and reliability.
  5. Housing, a fit for purpose measure of energy efficiency to be developed which better reflects the value of renewable heat use as well as older and traditional building methods
  6. Learning and skills to be prioritises, to prevent job losses and enable businesses to react to changing markets
  7. Renewable energy should be supported to build on the expertise and infrastructure already available in Scotland.
  8. Leisure and tourism to be promoted, to spread visitors and encourage money to be spent in Scotland rather than further afield. This will reduce transport emissions as well as boost local economies and save jobs.
  9. Government policy for land management should be very clear and forward looking in terms of what it will look to support in future, allowing planning and implementation to be put into practice.
  10. Enterprise companies and other government agencies to be tasked with providing market intelligence to fully understand the changes in public and consumer habits, which will investment to be made in the right places with confidence.