A planned energy transition zone in the south of Aberdeen would bring benefits to the whole of Scotland, council leaders have claimed.
Councillors approved plans to earmark land in Torry for the development of renewables in order to help the city meet net-zero emissions targets in the new Local Development Plan.
The land set aside for the development is adjacent to the new South Harbour development, scheduled to open next year.
Chiefs at Aberdeen City Council believe the city has an advantage over others in being able to attract investment in an energy transition zone because of its track record in oil and gas.
But they warned if such a site is not built in Aberdeen, there is little chance of it being built elsewhere in Scotland.
The council’s chief officer for city growth, Richard Sweetnam, said: “It is a very exciting time and I think we have to be asking what city is in a better position to capitalise on the potential economic benefits than Aberdeen.
“It would be in Aberdeen but it would really be a zone for the whole of Scotland. It’s of national significance – transformational significance.”
He added: “What distances Aberdeen from other cities in this regard, and might serve as an advantage, is its track record.
“Energy transition has been happening here since 2008.
“The track record and credentials we have built up mean Aberdeen is more ‘investor-ready’ than other cities.
“One in two jobs in Scotland’s energy sector is in this region, along with technological innovations and so forth.
“We have got all the credentials to compete.”
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The planned zone would include more than 30 hectares of land around the new South Harbour development, including Altens, East Tullos, St Fittick’s Park and Doonies Farm.
Once the zone is created, the companies would have the opportunity to make use of the land available as part of it.
Council co-leader Douglas Lumsden said the zone would present an opportunity for Aberdeen on a par with the discovery of oil and gas in the 1970s.
And he urged the city to make the most of its chance.
He said: “If it isn’t here, it’s not going to be anywhere in Scotland. We are working together to make sure this is coming to Aberdeen.
“There are plenty of other people out there who would be delighted to have an ETZ. We have to do everything we can to make sure this comes here.
“We know in terms of oil and gas, it is not going to be around forever. This is our next big opportunity. It would be a failure on us if we didn’t grab this with both hands now.”
He added the coronavirus outbreak was unlikely to have any significant effect on the proposals.
It is hoped work on the zone could begin in the coming years, with a long-term plan in place to expand the zone and transform the north-east energy sector in the coming decades.
Fellow co-leader Jenny Laing believes the city has a chance to put itself at the forefront of cutting-edge developments.
She said: “We want to get to a stage where we can showcase that to the world and say ‘Aberdeen is the place to come to’.
“It’s about the whole north-east region benefitting from the investment and the way in which we are moving the city forward.
“There is a big prize and that would be for the whole of the city, north-east region and Scotland – inclusive economic growth.”