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Sir Ian Wood says it is ‘crucial’ that funding be found for multi-million-pound projects in north-east despite soaring construction costs

Sir Ian Wood.          Picture by Kami Thomson
Sir Ian Wood. Picture by Kami Thomson

Fears have been raised that rising construction costs will hamper a variety of ambitious projects across the north-east.

The committee overseeing the £250 million Aberdeen City Region Deal met yesterday to discuss the impact the pandemic has had on the projects of Opportunity North East (One) – a collaborative group that strives to boost the region’s economy.

City Region Deals are agreements between the UK Government, Scottish Government, local authorities and other partners to invest in cities and regions.

Projects that are already benefiting from the north-east package include the Aberdeen Harbour expansion.

Members yesterday spoke of fears about rising construction costs for One schemes – with both Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire experiencing higher construction costs than usual during the pandemic.

Aberdeenshire Council leader Jim Gifford said that various town centre work had been “over the estimated costs” and urged One to be “on the ball” with a further rise.

Aberdeen City Council co-leader Jenny Laing added that she had experienced a “similar situation” throughout lockdown in Aberdeen and that a “close eye” would need to remain on the sector.

Focus was on the city’s BioHub project, which is at a critical stage after the start of construction was halted in April.

The development, which will be built at Foresterhill, forms part of the £250m deal.

Artists impression of the building.

It was agreed that additional funding for the project would hopefully be found before an August deadline.

Sir Ian Wood, chairman of One, said it was “critical” that funds be sourced.

He said: “BioHub is a transformational investment project for life sciences companies in the region.

“It will help academics, clinicians, companies and researchers to collaborate, innovate and commercialise therapies and solutions for global health challenges, ranging from Covid-19 to cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.

“BioHub’s delivery is critical to economic recovery in the region and to deliver nationally-significant growth in the country’s health economy.”

Mrs Laing stressed that city Region Deal partners were “fully committed to its delivery.”

The meeting yesterday

She added: ““The joint committee noted that additional funding has been made available to similar projects in Scotland and we will explore all funding options with the UK Government and Scottish Government ahead of our next meeting.”

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