Buchan business owners have been left reeling by the collapse of a world-first project that would have created hundreds of jobs.
Shell’s carbon capture and storage (CCS) project at the port’s power station was dead in the water last night after the UK Government withdrew its offer of £1bn in funding.
The global oil-firm said it had “no future” in Peterhead without the money.
And Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE), which runs the plant, described it as a “missed opportunity”.
It has left business owners within the town reflecting on what could have been.
Hotel owner Terry Moran, who runs the Albert Hotel on Queen Street, said she was at a loss to explain why the UK Government had pulled out of the project at the eleventh hour.
“I’m not sure what effect it will have on my business,” she added.
“Accommodation is always at a premium, but, for the economy of our area, it should have happened and I find it disappointing that it was hidden in the hee-haw of the budget – it was the thing that stuck out in my mind, but it was only covered in local news.
“We are a resilient town, we’ve been through a lot, but I’m very, very disappointed.”
Tommy Jackson, a director the Buchan Braes in Boddam – where the infrastructure for the project would have been based – added that locals had been “pinning their hopes” on the project transforming the area.
Mr Jackson said businesses throughout Buchan had suffered because of the downturn in oil and that CCS was seen as a solution.
He added: “A lot of development has gone on in the area on the back of the hope that it was coming.
“We’re an established business, but there are a lot of established businesses, given the downturn in the oil, who are struggling and who were hopeful that this would have given them a boost within the local economy and brought everything back into line.
“I’m sure it will have implications on us, but we have been holding on very well.”
Construction of the facility at Boddam would have created work for about 400 people, rising to a peak of 600.
Local politicians, Eildih Whiteford MP and Stewart Stevenson MSP had branded the decision to withdraw funding a “disgrace”.
And the Scottish Government energy minister, Fergus Ewing, described it as a “hammer blow” to Scotland’s energy generation, and condemned the Conservatives’ “deeply flawed austerity agenda”.
Gordon Bell, chairman of The Retailer which is working with the local authority on regenerating Peterhead’s town centre, said it was a “shame” that the project was not going to go ahead.
But he added that the project’s success had not been factored into the work that his group is carrying out in the port.
“It would have been a big bonus in five or six years’ time for the town, but it will not have a significant impact on what we are doing at the moment,” he said.
“In the long-term, there will be a difference. It’s certainly a shame that it’s not going to happen – but it really doesn’t change our strategy.”
The Retailer offers advice to local shops in how to train staff and upgrade frontages in order to attract more business.