Council chief pleased City Region Deal is progressing as projects get under way

deal: The leaders at the signing of the £250m Aberdeen City Region Deal.

The historic £250m Aberdeen City Region Deal was signed off by Ministers from the UK and Scottish Governments in the North-east last January.

City deal money will be used for a number of projects across the region including a new energy innovation centre, an expansion of Aberdeen harbour, improvements in digital connectivity and attempts to diversify the economy of the North-east.

On the same day, the Scottish Government announced an additional £254m of investment in infrastructure, to be spent over the same five to ten year time as the City Region Deal, on transport, digital connectivity and housing.

In November dignitaries from both governments met in the city to officially sign the legal terms behind the deal.

It is estimated the total value of the historic deal could be worth up to £826m once private sector and other investment is factored in.

Council leader Jenny Laing said: “We’re obviously pleased that the City Region Deal is progressing and the projects are now coming onstream.”

A UK Government spokeswoman said progress could already be seen.

Scottish Government £254m additional funding:

Since early last year Aberdeen City Council chiefs claimed they had been “left in the dark” by the Scottish Government after requesting further details on the £254m funding package announced in January.

A memorandum of understanding covering the additional funds was eventually signed last month.

Economy Minister Keith Brown stressed the legal aspects of the city deal were only formally agreed in November last year, despite the political deal being signed off in January.

He said: “The Scottish Government is also investing an additional £254m alongside the City Region Deal to achieve a more significant step change to the economy of the North-east.”

North-east MSP Mike Rumbles, Lib Dem transport spokesman, urged action on transport projects.

He said: “The first signs from the SNP have not been positive however – the Laurencekirk junction on the A90 is scheduled to take longer to build than the Burj Khalifa tower and rail connections to the North-east still take longer than they did in the Victorian era.”

The Oil and Gas Technology Centre:

The new £180m Oil and Gas Technology Centre – part-funded by the City Deal – aims to make the North-east a focal point for oil and gas technology by helping companies develop and deploy new products and processes that can reduce costs.

Experienced industry leader Colette Cohen was appointed chief executive in July and in September she revealed she had filled a number of key posts.

Both governments have already released £4.1m in funding in this financial year to progress the Oil and Gas Technology Centre.

North-east MSP Liam Kerr, Conservative transport spokesman, said he was pleased oil tycoon Ian Wood had championed the Oil and Gas Technology Centre and swift action had been taken

He said: “Given the ongoing downturn in the oil and gas sector, the government should fast-track these plans and get on with delivering what was promised.”

Council leader Ms Laing said: “The oil and gas technology centre is up and running and they have identified various aspects of where the solutions will focus their action.”

Digital connectivity:

A £45m business case to provide ultrafast broadband across Aberdeen was agreed just last week.

The target is for the city to be ranked in the top six of the UK regions for availability and speeds.

The city council will deliver improvements through two programmes of work including the procurement of ultrafast connectivity and work to extend and enhance the existing council-owned duct network throughout the city.

Over the next year, the council leadership said digital connectivity will remain a priority.

Aberdeen Harbour expansion:

Work on the £350m Bay of Nigg expansion is poised to begin next month when land-based construction and road strengthening work will begin with the breakwater construction beginning in May.

Funding from the City Region Deal will go towards external roads work.

It’s estimated the development will generate an additional £1 billion per annum to the economy by 2035 and will create an additional 7,000 equivalent jobs.

Agri-Food and Nutrition Innovation Centre:

A business case is currently being developed for the centre with UK and Scottish Government and key industry figures.

The council reports that “some slippage” is expected in issuing the business case for review due to the availability of consultants.

Ms Laing said the innovation centres for nutrition and bio-therapeutics are “less developed” but said business cases are being looked at now.

She added: “They’re the areas where we want to diversify and strengthen.”

Housing:

The Scottish Government has briefed developers in both council areas on how the housing infrastructure fund would work.

Both councils are now working with applicants to formalise their applications.

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