Two north-east councils have set out their regional economic strategy to plan for ‘post Covid-19’.
A report will be discussed at next week’s meeting of Aberdeenshire Council’s infrastructure services committee, which will discuss the scale of the challenge faced by local authorities, as well as the strategic focus for the region.
The joint report, which covers Aberdeen City Council, Aberdeenshire Council, Opportunity North East (ONE) and #ABZdeal, aims to show how the region’s economic strategy is still fit for purpose to deliver the ambitions of Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire, despite the shock of the coronavirus pandemic.
It has already been endorsed by the ONE Regional Economic Partnership Forum, where it was discussed at the end of July.
The report states: “The focus of our Regional Economic Strategy (RES) and action plan has always been the diversification, resilience and flexibility of the north-east economy and how the region would be more resistant to future economic shocks.
“The situation is different – there is no precedent for the scale of the shock to the economy resulting from Covid-19 and the momentum growing for a systemic change as to how we transition to a greener economy with well being and inclusive growth throughout our communities at its heart.
“Our continued ability to positively contribute disproportionately to GVA will provide a basis for us to deliver a green and inclusive recovery for the north east that can benefit the whole country. Work was already under way at the start of 2020 to refresh the RES vision to take account of changing economic drivers including the Climate Emergency/Net Zero, the increasing pace of digital and technology, and inclusive growth. These drivers have not changed despite the pandemic.”
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Priorities for the north-east have been set out for the coming months and years.
These include reaching net zero, a diversified economy, transforming our seafood, food, drink and agriculture market, as well as life science companies developing solutions for global health challenges.
It is also hoped to achieve a thriving visitor economy, high-quality life for those who live and work in the region, increasing the number of companies exporting and connecting and supporting residents for economic and learning opportunities.
The report adds that there is a number of projects being undertaken across the north-east that could help with the region economic strategy, including the energy transition zone, BioHub, city centre masterplan, town centre regeneration, hydrogen hubs and more.
It states: “We also need to ensure we remain alert to wider threats – new, old and those that may still result as a longer-term effects of Covid-19 including a no deal Brexit at the end of 2020 remaining a huge possibility and the risks that poses to our export performance, effects on future government funding and its ability to provide further stimulus and connectivity challenges, both in terms of infrastructure and transport.”
The report will be discussed on Thursday, August 20, with councillors recommended to support it.