The Aberdeen City Deal which was signed today represents an important milestone in the city’s proud commercial history, writes Lord Dunlop.
It comes at a time when the economy of Aberdeen and the North East of Scotland is having to contend with considerable challenges brought about by the slump in global oil prices.
We have already witnessed in Glasgow the extra jobs and growth that this kind of deal can bring, and I want to see this success replicated in Aberdeen.
The City Deal will see a major new injection of £250 million of public sector funding into North East Scotland’s economy.
But that’s not all. We also expect it to have a multiplier effect, unlocking as much as £1.2bn of private investment.
I welcome the Scottish Government’s decision to match the UK Government’s funding and believe the deal provides a great example of the UK and Scottish Governments working together for the benefit of the Scottish people.
On issues of this magnitude, the people of Scotland have a right to expect nothing less.
People are entitled to ask what difference the City Deal will make in practice?
The answer is that the benefits will be significant and wide-ranging.
It will enable the construction of a new energy innovation centre to help support the extraction of the North Sea’s remaining reserves and provide a platform for future export success.
The new funding will also pave the way for the expansion of Aberdeen harbour, enabling the local economy to compete, not just for decommissioning work, but also to provide a facility for major cruise liners to berth, diversifying the economy and bringing millions of pounds of new revenue to shops, bars and restaurants from the new influx of visitors to the city.
And, in addition to commitments to improve digital connectivity across the area, the deal will set out how the region will diversify the biopharmaceutical and agri-food industries, creating new jobs and export opportunities.
This will deliver strong action in the short, medium and long terms to bring about a secure future for the economy of Aberdeen and the North East.
Nor should the deal be seen in isolation. It comes on top of the broader support the UK Government is providing for the North Sea, such as the £1.3bn package of tax measures for the oil and gas industry to ensure the UK Continental Shelf remains an attractive destination for investment.
The UK Government is also working hard to help develop new markets for the world-leading expertise which exists in the North East and elsewhere in the UK.
Scottish Secretary David Mundell will visit Mozambique next month to support the drive to strike a formal agreement between Aberdeen and the town of Pemba, which would see technology designed and manufactured in Aberdeen play a key role in developing Pemba into an oil and gas hub.
This City Deal is bigger than politics; it is a chance to build a bridge to the future for Aberdeen, an opportunity to diversify while at the same time offering real support for its traditional industries.
But most of all, it is about the North-East and everyone who lives here. It is something of which we should all be proud.