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People of Torry told they’ll ‘have to make sacrifices’ as council looks to lease beloved park

The decision means St Fittick's Park is one step closer to being turned into an energy transition zone (ETZ).

Aberdeen councillors are looking to lease the land to become an ETZ
The vote came after a typically fiery meeting. Image: Kenny Elrick/DC Thomson

Dejected Torry residents were told they’ll “have to make sacrifices” as the council voted to lease St Fittick’s Park to developers planning to turn it into an industrial estate.

Efforts to transform one third of the popular park into an energy transition zone (ETZ) moved forward at a heated council meeting on Monday afternoon.

Campaigners had seized upon one of their final chances to stop the development, as it emerged that the greenspace would form just 3% of the planned renewables zone.

St Fittick’s Park campaigners. Image: Friends of St Fittick’s Park.

Ultimately though, councillors voted 32-12 in favour of launching talks with ETZ Ltd about leasing the site.

Those in favour argued that the entire project would be jeopardised if the 3% “keystone” area was removed.

Bosses at ETZ Ltd, backed by Sir Ian Wood, have insisted that St Fittick’s must be included in the development, as it provides direct quayside access to Aberdeen South Harbour.

What exactly were councillors voting on?

Councillors voted on whether or not to begin exploring leasing options for the site.

Leading SNP and Lib Dems members opted to allow officials to begin looking for a leasing partner, generally understood to be ETZ Ltd.

The Tories also backed the move, as long as any future leases are not approved until so-called “community benefit packages” are reviewed.

St Fittick’s Park could be the site of an Energy Transition Zone (ETZ). Image: Kenny Elrick/DC Thomson

Labour: Proposed benefit packages are ‘pie in the sky ideas’

However, this compromise did not placate Labour councillors, who voted to save St Fittick’s Park from any development.

Torry member Simon Watson labelled the SNP-Conservative suggestion as “pie in the sky,” adding: “Quines and loons may live in hen houses, but we all know this is chicken feed.

“There are some things that money can’t buy, and a healthy life is one of them.”

Simon Watson
Simon Watson pleaded to preserve St Fittick’s. Image: Kath Flannery/DC Thomson

Tory Michael Kuzsnir broke party lines, telling the chamber that the development of St Fittick’s would be disastrous for his constituents.

He said: “I recognise the potential benefit to the city of leasing out the site… but the impact to the Torry part of my ward would be severe.”

Will people Torry ‘accept they have to make sacrifices’ as part of ETZ lease?

Fellow ward member Cllr Lee Fairfull her local rivals of using the lives of Torry residents to engage in a “dangerous agenda”.

And she insisted that community benefits would properly compensate those who will have to make “sacrifices.”

The SNP member said: “While I may not like where we are, going forward myself and my partnership colleagues will ensure that the residents of Torry are always included, mitigations are looked at, and [residents] will get the best benefits for any sacrifices they have to make.”

She was joined by fellow SNP Cllr Christian Allard, who also represents Torry and Ferryhill.

Protestors attend as Torry ETZ lease talks are voted through

Prior to the meeting, protestors gathered outside Aberdeen Town House- a common sight in recent months.

When asked why St Fittick’s needed to be preserved, campaigner Richard Caie told us: “It’s a beautiful green space. It serves a huge number of people… It’s so important for biodiversity.”

Torry protestors tried to fight the ETZ lease talks.
Torry protestors tried to fight the ETZ lease talks. Image: Darrell Benns/DC Thomson

Dr Adrian Crofton, who works at Torry Medical Practice, also attended the rally.

He warned of negative health impacts if the park is redeveloped- a concern in an area where residents live a decade less, on average, than those in Aberdeen’s richest neighbourhoods.

He told us: “To take away the last remaining green space from an area that faces some of the highest levels of deprivation in all of the north of Scotland seems very regressive.”

Do you think the council made the right decision? Let us know in our comments section below

Could Council chiefs be taken to court AGAIN?

Just hours after the vote, Glasgow-based Govan Law Centre announced that their solicitors were exploring the possibility of “raising urgent proceedings” at the Court of Session in Edinburgh.

Govan Law Centre previously represented library and pool campaigners, whose legal threat forced the council into carrying out studies on controversial closures.

At the same packed council meeting yesterday, various schemes to regenerate Aberdeen were debated.

And the council is poised to reopen talks with Aberdeen FC on a new stadium at the seaside: