MINISTERS have been urged to set up an independent body outside of politics to advise on Scotland’s infrastructure needs.

The creation of a new specialist organisation is one of the key recommendations from the Infrastructure Commission for Scotland.

It also called for a “construction accord” to be drawn up between public bodies and the sector. The commission said there is a need to “develop a more coherent and less fragmented approach to skills development and training in Scotland, which is more sharply focused on the needs of the construction sector – both in the immediate and longer terms”.

It has also recommended a registration scheme be set up for all apprenticeships in Scotland, saying this could raise the profile of careers in the construction industry “as well as helping to promote and support the delivery of quality in the sector”.

The commission was set up by the Scottish Government to look at the country’s infrastructure needs and challenges over the next 30 years.

Its first report, published in January, focused on the desire to create an “inclusive net-zero carbon economy” but also warned difficult choices will need to be made to achieve this.

To help towards this, it said there needs to be an “independent long-term advice organisation” that sits outside of the political system.

The report recommended that by 2021 a new independent specialist body should be set up to develop a 30-year infrastructure needs assessment and strategy, which would then be refreshed every five years.

Ian Russell, chairman of the Infrastructure Commission for Scotland, said: “Infrastructure has a vital role to play in the delivery of an inclusive, net-zero carbon economy and Covid-19 has amplified the need for urgent action and change for economic, social and natural infrastructure.

“The commission is recommending that an independent, specialist body be given responsibility for providing Government with strategic, long-term infrastructure advice and enshrining the place principle within planning practice.

“Collaboration between the public sector and the construction industry is crucial.”