Our basket of resilience and sustainability measures considers both the natural and built environment.
It looks for places that have a neutral impact on the environment by measuring air quality, CO2 emissions, recycling levels and energy consumption. Alongside this, it also considers the extent to which places provide the infrastructure that people and businesses need to flourish. This includes indicators such as dwelling completions, planning applications and amount of substandard housing.
This combination of measures results in an extremely varied performance within different regions and area types in Scotland (see map 1). For example, a number of regions have areas that perform at the top and bottom of the index. Likewise, highly rural and highly urban areas appear at both the top and bottom of the ranking. As a result, the five top-ranking areas are from four different regions, with Highland, South Lanarkshire, Fife, Aberdeenshire and Perth & Kinross ranking one to five respectively. Meanwhile, the bottom five are from three different regions.
Map 1 - How areas of Scotland perform against the Vibrant Economy Index resilience and sustainability indicators
This variation stems partly from the suite of measures in this basket which – perhaps more than any of the others – are directly influenced and shaped by local authority policies. This means that, within a region, neighbouring areas can see very different decisions being made in relation to housing, planning and recycling.
To create vibrant economies, those responsible for shaping place must ensure not only that enough homes are provided, but also that the right type and tenure of homes are available. Local authorities need to consider the availability of affordable and family homes as well as the provision of flats and other housing types. As the population grows, they must also consider the environmental implications of growth, particularly in terms of energy consumption and the levels of waste generated. As with other baskets, these are challenging issues for which there are no easy solutions.