Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire councils yesterday formally backed proposals for a £2.9billion City Region Deal for the north-east.
The move signals a commitment to open direct talks with the UK and Scottish governments to secure what was described as “an opportunity on an unprecedented scale” by city leader Jenny Laing.
The ambitious bid aims for nearly £3billion worth of infrastructure improvements over the next 20 years, coupled with an economic strategy focusing on securing Aberdeen’s status as a world energy city.
Both local authorities have also committed to capital investment plans totaling £1.4billion in the coming decade.
Members in the city council chambers unanimously passed a motion instructing the chief executive, with the leader, to enter into talks with civil servants in Westminster and Holyrood.
Mrs Laing said: “We believe that the City Region Deal can act as a powerful catalyst for growth and diversification for existing and new industries, with an impact not just on the economy but on regional competitiveness, connectivity, infrastructure, housing, employment and lifestyle.”
Opposition SNP group leader Callum McCaig said agreement across the city chamber and at both levels of government was “a little bit remarkable” and for the good of the city.
Liberal Democrat group leader Ian Yuill added: “If we prosper, Scotland prospers and the UK prospers.”
At Woodhill House, Aberdeenshire councillors voted by 61 to 2 to support the deal, following rejection of an amendment from the Green and Democratic Independent Party calling for greater emphasis on the “low carbon economy” and the actions required to support that.
There was also some disquiet among some Aberdeenshire councillors that the document was too focused on the city. Opposition SNP group leader Hamish Vernal said: “We have to be aware that it is an equal partnership.”
Council leader Jim Gifford said: “It is a fantastic opportunity for the whole of the north-east of Scotland. The city region deal is not only enhancing the oil and gas industry but looking at what comes next.”
Prime Minister David Cameron has made positive comments about Aberdeen’s case for the City Deal status, which has been granted to a number of regions in England and also to Glasgow.
Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls, writing exclusively for the Press and Journal today, has also said that the UK government should “push ahead” with the City Region Deal for Aberdeen.