A Scottish Government minister said he cannot give a “direct view” on plans to build an energy scheme on the site of a popular Aberdeen green space.
Green MSP Maggie Chapman lodged a motion at Holyrood in support of the campaign to save the award-winning St Fittick’s Park wetlands in Torry and Doonies Farm.
Both are threatened with industrial development as part of plans for an energy transition zone in the north-east.
However, Richard Lochhead, Minister for Just Transition, said it was “inappropriate for ministers to comment on a specific case at this stage”.
‘Well-loved and well used’
While the Greens back the energy scheme, they propose that empty industrial units and brownfield sites in the Altens area be used instead of the 70-acre green space.
Ms Chapman told MSPs the campaign to save the area “speaks to fundamental issues of power and democracy”.
She said the park is the “only accessible green space” for the community and is “well loved and well used by people who live locally, mostly in tower blocks and flats”.
The Green MSP added: “We get that the climate emergency is affecting people and nature all over the world.
“But we also know we can get the energy transition we need without destroying valuable community green space.
“We must not concrete over the lungs of the community.”
‘Inappropriate to comment’
Aberdeen City Council has proposed rezoning these areas as opportunity sites for the energy transition zone within their new local development plan.
The St Fittick’s area was chosen due to its proximity to the new South Harbour development at Nigg Bay, which is due to begin opening by the end of this year.
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.
Richard Lochhead, Minister for Just Transition, said it was “inappropriate for ministers to comment on a specific case at this stage”.
He added: “The Scottish Government and the planning authority both have statutory roles and any proposals have to follow due process.
“While I can’t give a direct view on the planning issue, I do want to say that our national planning policy is currently under review.
“The energy transition zone was received as approximately one of 250 national developments and we’re all considering now what the suggested national developments should be going forward, with a view to laying a draft national plan and framework in the autumn.”
‘Exciting and ambitious project’
ETZ Ltd, the company set up to drive the project forward, recently appointed environmental consultants, Ironside Farrar, to lead a team to advance the master plan for the site.
Maggie McGinlay, the firm’s chief executive, said the energy scheme is a “milestone project that will help cement Aberdeen’s position as the all-energy capital of Europe”.
She added: “Critical to the project’s success is ensuring the local community is listened to throughout the process.
“The team at Ironside Farrar are fully aware of the importance we place on this, and they will play a key role in delivering what is an exciting and ambitious project for our region.
“We are at the start of the process and would welcome the opportunity to explore with the community ideas around a number of specific projects and initiatives that would have the aim of developing local amenities, whilst considering the importance of biodiverse areas, as important community-based elements of the ETZ project.”