Council leaders are due to meet a senior government minister today in a bid to attract investment for energy transition in the city.
Douglas Lumsden and Jenny Laing, the co-leaders of Aberdeen City Council, are due to discuss future plans for the energy sector with Michael Gove MP – the minister for the Cabinet Office – via video call.
The co-leaders, who have repeatedly called for government investment to support the city in its move away from oil and gas, say support could help the north-east become a “model region” for energy transition.
In May, the council’s Net Zero Vision was approved by the urgent business committee – along with a strategic infrastructure plan for energy transition – to support the city’s economic recovery following the Covid-19 crisis.
And last month, the Scottish Government announced the creation of a £62 million energy transition fund, focusing on the north-east, to help deal with the impact of Covid-19 on the region and the oil and gas sector.
More than 4,500 jobs in the industry have already been lost – and experts say up to 30,000 could go by October 2021 as a result of coronavirus wiping out demand for fuel.
Ms Laing said: “This meeting allows Aberdeen City Council to speak directly to the UK government at ministerial level. It is therefore important that we set out our case as to why the UK government should invest in Aberdeen.
“Aberdeen has shown with its Aberdeen City Region Deal that the best way to remain competitive is when the public and private sector work together.
“Our ask of the UK government will therefore be on the support we seek to become a model region for energy transition as well as provide details on our journey to become a net zero city.”
She added: “I believe that our ambition to be a net zero city and eventually a climate positive city requires support from the public, businesses and the UK government.
“In setting up a new leadership board for the city, we did do so in the knowledge that the council cannot deliver positive change itself and requires financial investment from UK government industrial knowledge from business and practical social place making and well being support from the council.”
In March, the council’s new local development plan was approved, earmarking land around the new South Harbour expansion project for use as an energy transition zone.
Mr Lumsden, who is also the city council’s finance convener and chairs the city growth and resources committee, said the meeting would give the authority the opportunity to explore the possibility of the energy transition zone being granted Freeport status.
At Freeports, normal tax and customs rules do not apply, and imports can be brought ashore with simplified customs documentation and without paying tariffs.
The UK Government has proposed creating up to 10 of the sites across the country.
Mr Lumsden said: “For Aberdeen to be successful, we must deliver offshore wind production capability and expertise, provide world class marine infrastructure, and capitalise on our track record in securing investment in hydrogen power.
“I would like UK Government support to realise the ambition we have. We need UK government investment, and like industry, I believe that a UK national hydrogen strategy is needed, and I want Aberdeen to be a model region for energy transition.”
He added: “I want to explore with the UK government Aberdeen as a Freeport designation for that energy transition zone. I want to understand what fiscal incentive the UK government is looking at to encourage inward investment.
“I would like UK Government to consider enhanced capital allowances that would help attract the necessary new business to support investment around our vision as this would help with our offshore wind opportunities, hydrogen production and distribution and the transition of existing oil and gas related ports and industries towards carbon zero targets.”
Aberdeen-born Mr Gove previously told the Evening Express he had “great affection” for his home city.
The Cabinet Office has been contacted for comment.