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Plea for UK Government to give coastal communities financial support to go before councillors

Councillor Jim Gifford,
Councillor Jim Gifford,

Councillors are considering approaching the UK Government to push for more support for Aberdeenshire’s maritime industry and coastal communities.

Members of Aberdeenshire Council’s infrastructure services committee will be asked to approve an open letter to Maritime UK which calls for more financial support for the maritime industry.

If they agree, the letter, suggesting the handout comes from the Comprehensive Spending Review, will be sent to Chancellor Rishi Sunak.

Aberdeenshire Council leader Jim Gifford said he is keen for his colleagues to support the idea when they meet on Thursday.

“Anything we can do as a council to try and attract additional funding into the region has to be supported,” he said. “That is especially true in the current financial climate where so many business sectors are struggling and our ability to help them directly is very limited.

“Hopefully some collective support from across the country will get the attention of the chancellor when he is allocating funding through the Comprehensive Spending Review and hopefully some of that will end up in the north-east.”

The letter suggests coastal and ex-industrial towns are most economically at risk from Covid-19, but stresses the “maritime sector is uniquely positioned to drive new growth opportunities to help these regional economies recover”.

The letter states: “A government investment of £1bn to kick-start the UK’s maritime decarbonisation programme would directly create 15,200 jobs and a further 58,400 jobs throughout the supply chain.

“Not only is maritime decarbonisation essential to meeting the legislative target of net zero emissions by 2050, but the right level of investment now will position the UK as the world-leader in this area.”

It highlights the the work the maritime sector plays in keeping supply chains open, in particular during the coronavirus pandemic, continuing: “Maritime contributes £46.1bn to the UK economy and supports one million jobs.

“It is responsible for keeping the country supplied – 95% of British imports and exports in goods are moved by sea, including 25% of the UK’s energy supply and 48% of food supplies. Investment is essential for maintaining these resilient supply chains that every single person across the UK relies upon.

“The sector also enables millions of people to enjoy the recreational benefits of the UK’s coastal and inland waterways, and the maritime sector has made a significant contribution to the UK’s Covid-19 response, by keeping supply chains open, and ensuring access to vital resources across the country including food, fuel, and medicines.

“Globally, the maritime sector will double to $3 trillion by 2030, and the UK has a unique opportunity to be at the forefront of the growing market for decarbonising the maritime sector, and to export these technologies globally. But without investment, this opportunity will be missed, and the UK will risk losing its position as a world-leader in maritime.”

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