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ETZ boss: ‘Less than a third’ of St Fittick’s park will be required for north-east net zero transformation

The Aberdeen South Harbour surrounded by areas earmarked for the Energy Transition Zone.
The Aberdeen South Harbour surrounded by areas earmarked for the Energy Transition Zone.

Developers of the proposed Energy Transition Zone (ETZ) in the south of Aberdeen have said it will take up “less than a third” of the land of a highly contested park and greenspace being defended by local campaigners.

Maggie McGinlay, the chief executive of ETZ ltd, has written an article published in the Press and Journal setting out why the location of the proposed industrial site is “essential”, or else: “we should truly fear for the future of the city and region”.

Ms McGinlay is spearheading the establishment of the ETZ, which is earmarked to be developed over an estimated 30-40 ha alongside the new £350 million South Harbour expansion.

St Fittick’s Park could be the site of an Energy Transition Zone (ETZ). Picture by Kenny Elrick

Sites being considered for key developments include St Fittick’s park, which is directly across from the entrance to the new harbour.

Loss of St Fittick’s space considered a huge blow to Torry

But community campaigners have said it is the last green space in a highly industrial area which is essential to the health and wellbeing of local residents.

The award-winning public space has also been the beneficiary of over £10m invested in the establishment of wetlands that now host a vast array of plants and bird species.

Ms McGinlay said the use of St Fittick’s land was “crucial” to the success of ambitions for ETZ, which is to ensure the region is able to “re-position itself as the net zero energy capital of Europe”.

ETZ Ltd chief executive, Maggie McGinlay. Her firm is drawing up designs for the business park, linked to thousands of jobs, using some of the St Fittick's Park site. Photo by Scott Baxter/DCT Media.
ETZ Ltd chief executive, Maggie McGinlay. Photo by Scott Baxter/DCT Media.

She said: “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.

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

Fears the north-east will lose out

Aberdeen is in a race to compete with other harbours in the UK and Europe vying for a potential boom in work on renewable energy developments offshore.

She added: “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.”

She said the master plan has also taken into consideration all areas around the harbour and  “work is already underway” to ensure land in East Tullos and Altens, which have been hit by companies either relocating or going bust, are being “repurposed for use by ETZ”.

However, space right next to the new harbour will be “crucial” to investors and occupiers who want to use the harbour to support “massive upcoming offshore wind developments” expected to be developed in Scottish waters in coming years.

ETZ added up to 60% of these are within 100 miles of Aberdeen.

Companies are seeking to create 15 massive offshore wind farms in Scottish waters in the first phase of a process led by the Crown Estate called ScotWind.

Ms McGinlay said: “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.”

Seeking views on the future of Torry

ETZ ltd has launched a series of “meet the master planners” events to highlight the proposed developments and get feedback from residents of Torry.

There is no certainty that ETZ’s reassurances will mollify opponents.

Residents are largely concerned about the impact of continuing industrialisation of the area, including two commercial harbours, the sewage works, the Ness landfill, a regional waste centre, as well as an energy from waste incinerator in East Tullos which is still being built.

Ms McGinlay said the firm aimed to “consider enhancements to recreational facilities, and support community initiatives”.

She added: “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.”

ETZ Ltd plans to submit a planning application to Aberdeen City Council this summer.

As well as backing from public-private sector development body, Opportunity North East, ETZ has also amassed funding for the plan worth £59m from the Scottish and UK Governments.

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