Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

Maggie McGinlay: Energy Transition Zone is essential for all the north-east community

Maggie McGinlay is chief executive of ETZ ltd
Maggie McGinlay is chief executive of ETZ ltd

All of us who live in north-east of Scotland are acutely aware how reliant our economy has been on a world-class oil and gas sector.

For almost 50 years the region has made a massive contribution to the UK’s economic productivity and energy requirements and, in doing so, has sustained thousands of jobs in and across Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire.

The industry is now maturing, and, in the context of an unprecedented climate emergency, there are widespread calls from government and industry for energy transition activities to be accelerated.

Energy transition challenge is ‘stark’

It is sobering to reflect that the UK oil and gas industry lost around 35,000 direct and indirect jobs last year, many of which were across the north-east, so the scale of challenge is stark.

We want to harness the skills and experience of those 50 years and put it towards a world leading hub for renewables energies – offshore wind, green and blue hydrogen, carbon capture and storage – creating a long term and sustainable industry base that allows the north-east to re-position itself as the net zero energy capital of Europe.

View of area behind Aberdeen South harbour where the Energy Transition Zone will be based.

This is exactly what ETZ Ltd, the not-for-profit organisation I’m privileged to lead, has been established to do.

We operate on the basis of no commercial gain and with one over-riding goal; to protect and create as many jobs as possible ensuring a sustainable and vibrant future for the north-east and the people who live and work here.

The Energy Transition Zone is a vital project that will allow Aberdeen and the north-east to achieve this ambition.

We must not lose out

The reality is, however, we face stiff competition from ports around the UK and rest of Europe who are trying to emulate our plans but I’m very clear that we cannot and must not let Aberdeen lose out on this.

If we were to, we should truly fear for the future of the city and region.

We are progressing at pace to ensure this doesn’t happen and work is already underway to repurpose and refurbish key locations within the existing industrial sites of East Tullos and Altens which will be at the heart of the thriving cluster within the Energy Transition Zone.

Picture of Aberdeen South harbour expansion development at Nigg Bay. Picture by Kenny Elrick

Critical to the zone’s success will be our ability to attract specialist high-value manufacturing to support the massive upcoming offshore wind developments shortly to be announced by the Scottish Government, 60% of which are within 100 miles of Aberdeen.

Quayside access ‘crucial’

This means having direct access to the new £350 million deep-water Aberdeen South Harbour which is a crucial requirement of potential investors who need proximity to the quayside given the essential considerations associated with transporting components and materials from onshore to offshore and vice versa.

Direct port access is crucial to enabling investment and jobs in the wider zone and it will, subject to planning permission, require the utilisation of some of the land at St Fittick’s Park

Direct port access is crucial to enabling investment and jobs in the wider zone and it will, subject to planning permission, require the utilisation of some of the land at St Fittick’s Park which was earmarked by Aberdeen City Council for potential energy transition use in its proposed Local Development Plan last year.

We have embarked upon an extensive programme of engagement and dialogue with the local community and other stakeholders through a dedicated masterplan exercise covering the entire Energy Transition Zone project.

St Fitticks Park wetlands. Picture by KATH FLANNERY

This process, which reflects Scottish Government best practice, is in its early stages but is designed to ensure the views and concerns of the local community and other stakeholders are considered as part of the emerging proposals.

The first of the ‘meet the master planners’ workshops on 4 December at Torry United Free Church was very well attended by local members of the community and we are grateful for everyone’s participation.

Local community sentiment is strong

We recognise the strength of sentiment and how important accessible green public space and biodiverse areas are for the people of Torry,  particularly the walkways, wetlands and habitats at St Fittick’s Park.

‘Meet the master planners’ consultation at Torry United Free Church of Scotland in Aberdeen. Pic by Erikka Askeland/DC Thomson

We are listening carefully to these concerns and are very confident that less than a third of St Fittick’s Park will be required for development as part of the Energy Transition Zone project.

We are very confident that less than a third of St Fittick’s Park will be required for development as part of the Energy Transition Zone project.

The exact area requirements will be confirmed through the master planning process with a final report made public in 2022.

It is important to note that our only focus on the wider greenspace and playing fields, out with the project, is to consider how we can work with local residents, as part of the masterplan, to consider enhancements to recreational facilities, and support community initiatives.

Overcoming economic and social challenges

We recognise there are longstanding economic and social challenges faced by many in the area and we want to ensure there are tangible local benefits associated with the project that seeks to reverse this trend.

That is why we are creating an Energy Skills Academy Hub that will unlock quality job opportunities across the Torry community and we are in discussions to deliver an all-energy apprenticeship prioritising young people living in the Torry and Cove areas.

We are determined to ensure benefits of the ETZ project are widespread and felt keenly amongst those who live and work in close proximity to the proposed Energy Transition Zone.

Already a subscriber? Sign in