An Aberdeen farmer claims he has been “left in the dark” over plans to create a multi-million pound Energy Transition Zone (ETZ) on the site of one of Scotland’s largest rare and endangered animal farms.
Graham Lennox, who has held the tenancy of Doonie’s Farm since 2010, said he has “heard nothing” from planners and local authorities after more than a year of discussions about building a “major base for clean energy” on the 134-acre site and nearby St Fittick’s Park.
He added that the conservation site, which houses 23 rare breeds of pig, cattle, sheep, horses and chickens, has been left “in limbo” about its future.
It comes after chancellor Rishi Sunak announced £27 million in UK Government funding for the Energy Transition Zone project on Monday night.
Development body Opportunity North East (One), backed by oil tycoon Sir Ian Wood, unveiled its plans for the ETZ in January 2020.
Mr Lennox said: “This is our home and we still have another four years left on our lease here.
“No one has, as yet, come to us to discuss the project with us, so as a business we’re in limbo.
“We don’t know whether to invest or whether to just run our lease down – all I’ve heard is what I’ve seen in the media.
“It’s been a year since the ETZ became public knowledge and we have no idea about what the local plan will be – we’ve heard nothing at all about how it might affect us.
Torry campaign group, Friends of St Fittick’s Park, reacted to news of the £27m funding boost by releasing the results of a recent consultation on the proposed plans – which received nearly 199 objections.
Torry resident and environmental scientist David Knight, said the results show there was a “lot of feeling in the community” around protecting both areas.
He added: “It frustrates me that we are going to lose a wetland area, a wooded area and quite a large chunk of a community park – it’s ridiculous.
“I’m all for there being a transition from oil and gas to clean energy, however, if we build on a new area to make that happen then all will be left is a lot of brownfield site lying empty and unused.”
An Aberdeen City Council spokeswoman said “at this stage” the Energy Transition Zone aims to “cluster energy transition activity in the vicinity of Aberdeen Harbour South expansion, including Tullos and East Altens”.
She said: “Within the Zone, there are a number of sites included within the council’s proposed Local Development Plan for energy transition use.
“This plan was subject of a city-wide 15-week consultation late last year, the results of which will be reported to council before the plan is subject to examination in public by the Planning and Environmental Appeals Division at the Scottish Government.
“Should any of the sites come forward for development, they will be subject to a full planning application including the statutory consultation and community engagement at that time.”
Meanwhile, Sir Ian Wood has welcomed the £27m funding boost coming from the UK Government in today’s budget, which will go towards creating the energy transition zone in the city.
Speaking on Good Morning Scotland, Sir Ian insisted that businesses across the region are well-placed to transition to greener energy but that the move should have happened sooner.
He said: “We only really started moving a year ago but we should have started three or four years before that.
“The problem was that we were so busy with oil and gas as this is a region dominated by oil and gas and therefore there wasn’t the capacity at the time to convert.
“Make no mistake, oil and gas is here for a long time but every effort is going to be made to get net-zero, i.e. no carbon balance by 2050 and this will be achieved by the natural wind down of oil and gas, there’s a major programme oil and gas have right now to reduce emissions.
“It’ll also be achieved by carbon capture storage, by using some of the gas for hydrogen, there’s a whole range of activities.
“The UK and Scottish governments are very active just now, as is our industry in carrying out different ways to do this.”