North-east councillors have given their backing to a campaign urging the UK Government to provide increasing support for the region’s maritime industry.
Members of Aberdeenshire Council’s infrastructure services committee (ISC) supported the open letter to trade body Maritime UK which calls for £1 billion in support for the sector.
The document claims the sector can help with any economic recovery in light of the coronavirus crisis.
Aberdeenshire Council leader Jim Gifford put forward the motion asking for fellow councillors to ask the local authority’s chief executive Jim Savage to write to Maritime UK to add their support to the letter.
The letter suggests a cash handout comes from the comprehensive spending review and it will be sent to Chancellor Rishi Sunak.
Councillor Gifford said the comprehensive spending review was an “opportunity” for businesses and it was important for Aberdeenshire Council to add their voice to other local authorities supporting the maritime sector.
He said: “We all know the importance of the maritime industries to the north-east and indeed the whole of Scotland the wider UK.
“You will also know the comprehensive spending review is an ongoing process and a UK-wide opportunity to get support for businesses and industries across the whole country.
“Supporting this letter allows us to directly support this vital industry. In doing so we will be adding our name to the many other councils supporting this from Cornwall to Liverpool to Dundee and Inverclyde.”
Westhill and district councillor David Aitchison said while he supported the push for the more financial support he wanted to make sure devolved powers were highlighted.
He said: “Coastal towns are often the worst affected in any downturn and it is likely to be the case that it incurs again this time.
“We are supportive of councillor Gifford’s motion but I would point out there are parts of the letter that impinge on devolved matters like environment and economic development.
“With that in mind, I would hope the spending review takes account of local spending differences.
“It would be good if the council’s chief executive letter could ask if Maritime UK engages with the Scottish Government to find ways of economic growth in our coastal communities.”
Mid-Formartine councillor Paul Johnson said he backed the campaign although he wanted more information on reducing carbon emissions in the industry itself.
He said: “I have no difficulty in support any campaign which supports the maritime sector.
“In a former life, I did some marine biology work so the maritime sector is very dear to me as well.
“I just wanted to flag up the decarbonisation of the industry is important
“I’m happy to support councillor Gifford’s motion but we need to be mindful of the decarbonisation of the sector.”
Central Buchan councillor Jim Ingram it comes ahead of a major conference focusing on ports later in the year.
He said: “This is important this has come before us because I am aware there is a major environment transport conference taking place in London in December on the very issues of ports.
“One of the items on the agenda is developing port infrastructure in the UK, designing terminals fit for capacity and meeting the needs of new services.
“In my mind that puts a focus on what is important here in the north-east because we need good connectivity with various countries around the north-sea.”
The letter said that coastal towns and former industrial towns are most at economically at risk from Covid-19 but claims the maritime sector is “uniquely positioned” to help with any recovery.
It said: “A government investment of £1 billion to kick-start the UK’s maritime decarbonisation programme would directly create 15,200 jobs, and a further 58,400 throughout the supply chain.
“Not only is maritime decarbonisation essential to meeting the legislative target of net-zero emissions by 2050, but the right level of investment now will position the UK as the world leader in this area.”