The Scottish electorate is going to the polls again, to elect Members to the Scottish Parliament.

In case you weren't aware, the political parties in Scotland that are currently represented in the Scottish Parliament are (in no particular order) the Scottish National Party, the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, the Scottish Labour Party, the Scottish Liberal Democrats and the Scottish Green Party.

As part of our re:build Britain series, we have reviewed the manifestos published by each of these political parties, and picked out some of the highlights on what they propose in respect of some key construction issues – namely green energy, infrastructure, and housebuilding.

Green energy

There is an understandable focus in each of the manifestos on green energy.

  • The Scottish National Party (SNP) says it intends to generate 50% of Scotland's energy consumption from renewable resources by 2030, and by 2050 decarbonise the Scottish energy system almost completely. They say they will invest £100 million to stimulate the sector and its supply chain
  • The Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party (Conservatives) state they will make the adoption of green hydrogen a priority, to deliver a "clean energy transformation". They say that they will work with the UK Government to develop and expand Scotland’s pumped hydroelectric energy storage and carbon capture capacity
  • The Scottish Labour Party (Labour) says it recognises that residential building is a driver of climate emissions. Their manifesto has a focus on improving energy efficiency in residential properties, with the aim to upgrade all homes to at least an energy efficiency rating of C or higher by 2030 and, where possible, zero carbon by 2045
  • The Scottish Liberal Democrats (Lib Dems) say that they intend to make district heating the normal choice for new developments, and support the move away from new gas heating installation. They have set a target of 100% of energy generated in Scotland to come from renewables by 2030
  • The Scottish Green Party (Scottish Greens) propose a £500m heat network fund to support the expansion of local and district heating schemes, connecting 20,000 homes. The Scottish Greens also support a ban on new fossil fuel boilers from 2025 for buildings off the gas grid, and 2028 for all buildings.

Infrastructure

The parties' manifestos also have a lot to say about infrastructure.

The SNP says it plans to invest over £33 billion over the next five years through the "National Infrastructure Mission". This will include major investment in an Emerging Energy Technologies Fund, digital infrastructure, town centre revitalisation and other major projects. The SNP intends to bring ScotRail into public ownership next year and decarbonise rail services by 2035.

The Conservatives propose to upgrade major road routes. They also published a separate mini-manifesto for the North East of Scotland. which includes proposals to reopen closed railway lines to support local growth and investment in infrastructure (including roads). The Conservatives also pledge to support a bid for a freeport in the North East of Scotland.

Labour plans to decarbonise Scotland’s railways within 15 years and bring all railways into public ownership. They say new developments and regeneration of existing developments should be planned around green infrastructure and around net zero outcomes.

The Lib Dems' manifesto advises that they intend to give local people a say by ensuring there are community engagement plans in place at the planning stage of major infrastructure projects. They would also invest in and re-open railway lines and stations.

The Scottish Greens say they will focus on investing in green infrastructure over the next five years, drawing on at least £7.5 billion in public investment. They will also support Councils to own green infrastructure (including public transport and local energy companies). The Scottish Greens propose a 20 year £22 billion investment in Scotland's railways to build an accessible zero carbon network.

Housebuilding

Housebuilding is an important theme in the parties' manifestos, with proposals to build thousands of affordable homes.

The SNP states that their intention is to build 100,000 new homes by 2032, with at least 70% of these being for social rent. This will be backed by investment of £3.5 billion over the Parliament. The SNP also proposes to invest £1.6 billion over the next Parliament to decarbonise 1 million homes by 2030. Relevant for housebuilders, the SNP intends to bring forward legislation introducing "Land Value Capture" to make sure changes of land use lead to a proportion of the increase in price being reinvested in the local community.

The Conservatives' manifesto says they will deliver 60,000 new affordable homes, with two thirds of these being new social housing. They aim to increase overall house building across all sectors to 25,000 per year by the end of the Parliament and spend over £2.5 billion over the next five years on energy efficiency in homes and buildings to help meet the net zero target by 2045.

Labour says it would commit to delivering 120,000 zero carbon social houses built over the next decade, a target of building 200,000 social homes in that time. Labour would also seek to reform legislation to allow for the acquisition of land for social housing at existing use value.

The Lib Dems propose an initial build programme of 60,000 affordable homes, setting a target for all new social housing to be built to Passivhaus standards by 2025. They also seek to move one million homes to zero emission heating by 2030.

The Scottish Greens say they will aim for heating homes to be zero carbon by 2040 and that they will require all new homes to meet Passivhaus or other net-zero standards from 2022. The Scottish Greens support building 70,000 homes by 2026 with a further 50,000 in the following five years although its proposal is that 70% of those should be for social let. They also indicate their intention to require private mass housebuilders to provide a proportion of affordable housing built to the same standards as the rest of each development. Finally, they propose to review taxation of vacant and derelict land to ensure landowners are incentivised to bring it back into use.

What's next

It is clear from their manifesto statements that the parties have set out their commitment to investing in green energy and working towards net zero. Of particular note is the emphasis on socially conscious housebuilding and pledges to improve national transport infrastructure.

We will no doubt hear more from the parties on their plans in the weeks to come, and then elections will take place on Thursday 6 May.

And after that, it is up to the successful party to deliver on their manifesto.