Fast-tracking net zero infrastructure

Landscape view of Windmills with orange cloud background
Sophie Law

The Scottish Government will provide up to £1 million to support the pathfinders through the development phase of the programme.

Together this could unlock £40 million 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. 

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 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 £200 million 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 Green Growth Accelerator was launched on 9 June 2021.

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 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.