The most ambitious investment and development programme developed by the public and private sectors in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire was revealed earlier this week.
The Aberdeen City Region Deal aims to release about £2.9billion of funding for infrastructure in the area over the next 20 years, supported by an economic strategy focusing on internationalisation, innovation and skills.
The Deal would be supported by the capital plans already in place by Aberdeen City Council and Aberdeenshire Council that outline a total of £1.4billion of investment over the next 10 years on top of the £2.9bn proposed programme.
Discussions have already taken place with public and private sector organisations to explore how private sector investment can support meeting Deal objectives.
Further development of the Deal would involve the investigation and development of individual projects for discussion at a local, national and UK government level as appropriate.
While releasing funding for project work is a key focus of the approach, not all of the projects may be financial.
Areas of focus could include requests for regulatory change or establishing local links with public agencies to support
development and economic growth.
Leader of Aberdeen City Council Cllr Jenny Laing said: “The Aberdeen City Region Deal considers key interventions that will maximise our opportunity for growth, we know in our region these are housing, transport, city centre regeneration and development of the harbour.
“We have worked with the private sector who tell us that in addition to the infrastructure difficulties, skills and research and development are also critical for them.
“These are issues that concern us all, and securing the Deal would help us to realise the full potential of the region, working across the public and private sectors in the best interests of all.
“Aberdeen is keen to seize new opportunities to support the further growth of oil and gas and develop the industry further. The Aberdeen City Region Deal provides an opportunity to support and protect the sector – investing in the future.”
Leader of Aberdeenshire Council Cllr Jim Gifford said: “The UK and Scottish Governments have identified city regions as being one of the key engines of economic growth.
“By working alongside the city and our partners in the private sector, we can ensure a clear, joined-up approach to tackling pressing issues and removing barriers to allow us to achieve even more as a region.
“Today is the beginning of a discussion. If we are able to secure the backing of our councillors, we will continue to engage across all three layers of government and all parties to build a programme to support growth and prosperity for the future.”
Chief Executive of Oil & Gas UK, Malcolm Webb, said: “Aberdeen City and Shire requires investment in its transport, commercial, housing and communications infrastructure on a scale beyond the finances of the local authorities.
“The prospect of £2.9 billion being made available by the UK and Scottish governments on top of investment already planned by the City and Shire is, therefore, extremely encouraging.
“Without this investment, the greater Aberdeen area could limit the future development of the UK oil and gas industry and prove itself a victim of over-concentration on a single sector.
“There is huge potential for continued economic gains to be made from oil and gas for many decades and in this, north-east Scotland should certainly play a major role.
“However, better transport and communication links could also encourage the spread of the oil and gas sector to other parts of the country, simultaneously giving other industries, including public service organisations, the space and ability to grow in Aberdeen.
“Alongside an increased supply of affordable housing and related community infrastructure, these improvements would encourage a vibrant, mixed economy in which both private and public enterprises flourish to secure the long-term future of this beautiful part of the country.”
Both local authorities will discuss the matter concurrently at full council meetings on Thursday, March 12.