The time course of the Zone’s development makes interesting reading . Aberdeen Economic Policy Panel Report 5th November 2019 recommends energy transition must be more rapid and extensive than business communities have realised because of climate change and the need for Aberdeen to diversify its economy. But at the same time stressing this must be done in a sustainable (ie green) and inclusive way and that Aberdeen needs a very clear plan or how this is to be done. The ETZ as outlined in it’s Feasibility Study does not do that.
Submssion 054 to the Pre-Main Issues report from Aberdeen Harbour Board, “Case for Growth” prepared by Barton Wilmore. No bid for any land round the site of the proposed new harbour, but recognises offshore wind had been identified as a key component in the Scottish Recovery Economic Plan 2011 National Renewables Infrastructure Plan 2010, where Aberdeen harbour had been recognised as a 1st phase manufacturing site for renewables. It noted that local people would accept development the Bay of Nigg if a large area of green space could be retained. It also realised that any road west of the harbour through St Fittick’s park would have an impact on that green space. The Board did not favour this option because of the impact on the community – mitigation would be expenditure on community projects. Recognition that landward side of harbour needs improving – mentions wetlands and tree planting being planned
August Nigg Bay Development Framework Baseline Report (NBDF) published by Barton Willmore on behalf of Aberdeen Harbour Board, Aberdeen City Council and Scottish Enterprise. Put to public consultation in October 2015 The Harbour Board had changed its mind about the need for land round the harbour as it and existing harbour users had wanted land immediately next to the new harbour and round it to be allocated for development, but the majority of businesses accepted that if severe damage to the environment could not be mitigated, then the sites at East Tullos and Altens with the improved road linkage to the new harbour, provided in the NBDF, would be good sites for harbour related activities including offshore wind .
Detailed response of the Head of Planning and Development ACC to Scottish Ministers on the draft Aberdeen Harbour Revision Order (AHRO) which must be passed by the Scottish Government, to allow the harbour construction to start and to regulate how it is done. It approves the project but only on several conditions which include landscape mitigation in the wider area because the Expansion Project’s Environmental Statement had focussed on the immediately harbour area and ignored the adverse social and environmental effects on the wider one. The damage to the health of people living next to the new harbour from loss of green space and the major changes to the landscape ( loss of green space and of visual amenity) affecting their leisure and recreation; on the city as whole, on tourism and on a gateway to the city. Therefore it called for compensatory mitigation measures to benefit the community, including regeneration, and stipulated that the community should be involved in deciding what these should be. Another prerequisite for harbour construction which will regulates how it is done is the Marine Licence, authorised by the Scottish Government and issued by Marine Scotland .
Dispensation under the Councillors Code for Aberdeen City Council and Aberdeenshire Council from the Standards Commission Scotland for elected members and substitute members who have been appointed by either local authority to be members of the City Region Deal Joint Committee, ( 6 Aberdeen Councillors ; 4 Tory/Aberdeen Labour/Independent coalition , 1 Lib Dem and 1 SNP) and the same dispensation to Councillors who have been appointed by either local authority to be directors or alternative directors of Opportunity North East (ONE) . ie Douglas Lumsden ACC, Jim Gifford Aberdeenshire. Councillors do not have to withdraw from council meetings that are discussing or voting on the City Region Deal, any of its projects or their funding or recommendations by the City Region Deal Committee. Councillors who are directors or substitute directors of ONE do not have to withdraw from Council meeting discussing or voting on the City Region Deal its projects , their funding, or any of ONE’s projects.
AHRO passed by the Scottish Government on the recommendation of the Committee for Rural Economy and Connectivity following assurances from Minister for Transport and the Islands that he was satisfied with the mitigation measures for the site in the Schedule of the Order and that ACC and AHB were discussing the mitigation measures in the wider area. These were detailed in chapter 10 of the Construction and Environmental Management Document ( CEMD for the harbour and the Detailed Mitigation and Compensation Plan(DCMP) for St Fittick’s Park prepared according to the terms of an agreement between ACC and AHB under Section 69 of the Local Government ( Scotland Act) 1973. The Schedule of the AHRO allowed for measures to protect the East Tullos burn and its wetlands, the draft DCMP listed 10 improvements to St Fittick’s Park, 7 of which would be started in the first year of construction . The community’s understanding was that St Fittick’s park and the wetlands were protected from further development .
The date of the current Local Development Plan which lasts till 2022 – The “Zone” area is zoned as green space.
Consultation period for the Pre-Main Issues report, the main opportunity for the public and Statutory consultees to influence the content of the Main Issues Report (MIR) from which the Proposed Local Development Plan (PLDP) will be developed, by responding to it. Response from Torry Community Council (Q035) focussing on preserving the built environment and protecting the environment and open spaces , stating that any green belt development must be sustainable (thinking that no big change was on the cards as given the protection guaranteed in the BNDF) , and that atmospheric pollution should be reduced to protect public health. No bid for ETZ sites ,which could then be included in the MIR were amongst the 146 bid submitted and for which environmental impact assessments were made by the Council. Aberdeen Harbour board will attempt to change the Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire Strategic Development Plan (SDP) , which is higher in the planning hierarchy , by responding to it sometime between 8th October 2018 and 17th December 2018.
Consultation period for the MIR for the Proposed Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire Strategic Development Plan, which sets the ground rules for the LDP, published (All the other documents are accessed by this link) . Nothing about land round the harbour in the report and no response from the Harbour Board.
Marine Licence for Harbour Dredging granted, in force from 26th April 2018 - 30thSeptember 2020.
Proposed SDP Consultation period 8th October – 17thDecember. 67 representations, including PP18062 from by Barton Willmore on behalf of Aberdeen Harbour Board (though the form itself is completed by the Harbour Board) . It is for designated green belt land immediately next to Aberdeen South Harbour to be rezoned to “new Harbour opportunity areas” which should provide le quayside spaces, setdown areas, warehouses, and yard spaces, similar to those round the existing harbour. The bid prioritises development for potential, (but highly uncertain) future economic gains over the status quo. That would be “overtly restrictive and would stifle further opportunities for development” which is alleged to be compatible with other elements of the SDP (presumably economic development). The details of these opportunity sites would become clearer in the forthcoming Aberdeen Local Development Plan.
Aberdeen City and Shire Planning authorities respond to requests to modify the SDP.
Issue 006 Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire planning activities cite policy B5 in the current ( 2017) Local Development plan which favours the location of harbour related activities which have a functional requirement to be present there. The land in question is designated greenspace, apart from OP 62 which is the site of the as yet uncompleted Aberdeen South Harbour. As Aberdeen Harbour Board is a consultee for the LDP, any further discussion should be through the LDP review (due in 2022, currently underway.) The consultation period ended on 31st August 2020, and the 1000+ responses are being reviewed by the Council) . No modifications of the SDP are necessary
SDP sent to the Scottish Government for examination in public, to be accepted (or not) in December 2019
Crown Estates Scotland announces that the target date for the start of the new leasing round for offshore wind projects (“ScotWind leasing ) is October 2019. It will be followed by a prelaunch in the summer, with further details of the launch for interested parties.
Consultation period for the MIR . Bid by Barton Willmore ( 486) on the last day 13th May, on behalf of Aberdeen Harbour Board for extensive land round the New Harbour. Arguing that the rezoning of the area round Nigg Bay to accommodate the new Harbour sets a precedent for rezoning extensive areas of land round the South Harbour, (whilst ignoring the promised enhancement of St Fittick’s park as a condition of the AHRO Order 2016 on which the new Harbour was dependent) , and which were provided for by the Section 69 agreement between AHB and ACC . Responses are not open to public consultation.
Sir Ian Wood, chairman of Opportunity North East ( ONE) raises the idea of “a major Energy Transition Park” at the Energy Exports conference, dressing it up as a means to switch to a low carbon economy but maintaining that Aberdeen must become “ a significant onshore base for offshore wind” at a unspecified location in the south of the city, taking advantage of the new harbour.
Prelaunch of Scotwind leasing.
Concept of the EZT has been formed . A Feasibility Study is commissioned from Barton Wilmore by Aberdeen City Growth and Resources on behalf of ACC and Aberdeenshire Council, who are both part of Invest Aberdeen. ACC is also part of the client group the Feasibility Study will go on to refer to, as is Opportunity North East (ONE) .
It is to “give clarity” to the Harbour Board’s bid for a large area of land and to look at the wider area in the context of potential demand for offshore renewable energy from the harbour expansion. Also to help Aberdeen City Growth to see how and ETZ could drive city’s economy. It would be an exemplar net-zero business location which will attract green energy businesses to Aberdeen and help develop those already here.
UK government announces 10 UK post Brexit Freeport plans
Reports that the Scottish government is not keen on freeports because of the risk of tax avoidance and evasion. In March 2020 is becomes clear that they do not see what benefit they could have for the Scottish economy.
Kevin Stewart is not happy with the idea and asks for clarification of the plan. Ross Thompson, still MP, has been lobbying Lyn Truss for them.
Ross Thomson criticised for indicating that the Council supported his lobbying for Freeport status. Angela Scott is not enthusiastic, though Douglas Lumsden is and has been working with Ross, Harbour board has reservations.
Aberdeen Harbour Board is not yet convinced, saying further investigation is needed. Aberdeen South MP Brexiteer and Boris fan Ross Thomson is enthusiastic as is the Provost, Barney Crockett. Thomson has been lobbying Lyn Truss International Trade Secretary for Aberdeen to be a Freeport, but loses his seat to the SNP in December 2019.
Application for 2nd Marine Licences for construction and for dredging, as the 1st will expire in April and September 2020, due to delays in both.
The day before the Economic Policy Plan review 2019 is published. City urged to be bold by panel member Douglas Peedle – unique challenge, diversify – report to be discussed at the State of the Cities conference , discussion attended by civic leaders.
The proposed LDP has been prepared from the MIR and was due to be presented to the full council but was delayed till 2nd March because the council was waiting for a Scottish Government report on the proposed SDP.
OGA Board Meeting in Aberdeen – discussing OGA’s net zero plans – Tim Eggar will address the MER meeting on 15th , with the energy transition targets for the industry before COP 26 ( due to be in November 2020).
Tim Eggar, Chairman of the UK based Oil and Gas Authority is in Aberdeen, at the MER (Maximising Economic Recovery) steering group meeting with Cassandra like warnings to the industry to adapt to climate change pronto or die. He enthuses about what has now become the Energy Transition Zone, and recommends that it should be part of the “transformative deal “ for the oil and gas sector included in the Conservative Party’s manifesto in the December 2019 General Election . He cited carbon capture and hydrogen.
The ETZ - Sir Ian Wood publicly announces the ETZ, indicating it will be based on using green energy such as offshore wind, hydrogen and CCS. Almost as a last minute thought servicing , assembling and manufacturing offshore wind is mentioned and the hope that “leading brands” will come to the city, even though they are already well established elsewhere. Even so Ian Wood says:
“We’ve got the opportunity in the north-east of Scotland to help balance the economy with a new industry, and at the same time, play a really significant role in one of the world’s greatest problems right now in global warming.”
No funding in place yet, tough “leverage from the private sector and public purse” is envisaged. The potential for “thousands of jobs” has not been forgotten either. Highly speculative. The harbour is already a year late due to dredging problems and a combination of no construction during the cv pandemic and the main contractor terminating its contract with the Harbour Board by mutual consent, is now 2 years late. Tenders are out for a new contractor. There is no guarantee that licences will be granted for identified sites near Aberdeen, or that any successful developer will use Aberdeen as it’s preferred port. Bifab at Methil has already lost contracts for offshore wind development a few miles away to foreign firms. Worse will follow.
This is the first time the people of Torry have become aware of plans for their area. The Aberdeen Labour/Conservative city are enthusiastic supporters , but the LDP allocating sites for the proposed ETZ has not yet been accepted by the council and is not yet its “settled will”.
Article in a newsletter from the Oil and Gas Technology Centre ETZ, and [SS1] sayin g what a great thing it is. Also mentioning how much investment in energy transition will have to increase and puffing up the ETZ – very much from an oil industry perspective . Cites Jenny Laing saying that as a result of the Economic Policy Plan review 5thNov 2019 the Council’s City Growth and Resources Committee agreed to develop a[SS2] place based Net Zero Transition Plan and a prioritised Strategic Structure Plan. The potential to develop a world leading Energy Transition Zone is an exciting development opportunity development for the city and region. Looks forward to developing the business case for the Zone with among others UK gov, Scotgov and their agencies. Quotes ONE board members from Michelle Handforth, (Aberdeen Harbour Board CE)) Deidre Michie ( Oil and Gas UK CE)
[SS1]Big meeting in Aberdeen earlier in Jan.
[SS2]It does not advocate a zone as such but recommends Aberdeen’s transition should be unique, capitalising all its assets – ie its pristine natural resources.
Audit Scotland Report into City Region Deals shows that ONE dominated the formation of Aberdeen City’s deal and would be the major influence in its implementation. Not just because of its influence and that of its chairman, Sir Ian Wood , in the whole region but because it guaranteed to match Scottish Enterprise funding of certain projects to make them more attractive.
ETZ Feasibility Study issue 2 ( the only one in the public domain) published by Barton Willmore. It has been prepared in a rush and does not include any environmental assessments. It was commissioned by Richard Sweetnam of City Growth to clarify bid 486 and the advantages Aberdeen has for development of other renewable, in addition to wind turbine manufacture, in areas outwith that designated for the ETZ. It is highly speculative
UK Trade and Industry Consultation period for Freeports Aberdeen Harbour Board and Aberdeen city council are both supportive. The Harbour Board cites manufacturing with lower taxes and relaxation of planning rules so that the harbour would have more permitted developments than it does . See below for ACC’s submission.
Offshore wind does not generate vast numbers of promised jobs.
ETZ Feasibility Study and committee documents circulated to councillors ( email from Richard Sweetnam 17th August 2020).
Stephen Flynn condemns siting of ETZ in St Fitticks 2020 P&J Article
Proposed LDP ( meeting item 9.3 and 9.4) adopted by the full council after rejecting the SNP amendment to remove the reference to THE ETZ ( hence removing OP 56 and 61) and have an Energy Transition, not the Energy Transition Zone by one vote.
EE report Douglas Lumsden and Jenny Laing claim ETZ will benefit the whole of Scotland Land round harbour approved for development of renewables– investors will be attracted because of Aberdeen’s record in Oil and Gas. ( more article available to subscribers).
ETZ submission to the NPF4 Advocates for the change in the planning system its proponents want to remove what they consider as barriers to rapid economic development. In particular abandoning retaining green space in land in urban areas attractive to developers, such as St Fittick’s park. Justifying it by the need for a rapid energy transition and asking for Scottish Government support via the NPF4 for the Council’s decision to rezone greenbelt/greenspace land as OP 56 and 61, in the light of the alleged national strategic importance of the ETZ.
The oil price crashes to around $20 dollars a barrel – Lumsden and Laing are desperate for Scottish and UK government support for the ETZ.
EE report Douglas Lumsden and Jenny Laing claim ETZ will benefit the whole of Scotland Land round harbour approved for development of renewables– investors will be attracted because of Aberdeen’s record in Oil and Gas. ( more article available to subscribers).
EE report Douglas Lumsden and Jenny Laing claim ETZ will benefit the whole of Scotland Land round harbour approved for development of renewables– investors will be attracted because of Aberdeen’s record in Oil and Gas. ( more article available to subscribers).
Date of Statutory neighbour notification notices about an ETZ in OP 56 St Fittick’s park, which are sent out to people living nearby . Alerts people in Torry to the ETZ.
Also the date when ScotWind Leasing is open for applications. To encourage related work to come to Scotland applicants have to submit a Supply Chain Development Statement identifying what each project needs so that opportunities for and barriers to achieving this aim can be identified. However, the statements does not have to make a minimum commitment to Scottish supply chains, though there are vague references to “contractual remedies” to ensure that developers “will be motivated to commit resources and activity “ to give contracts to Scottish chains.
£62 million Energy Transition fund , principally for the NE supporting several projects, including THE ETZ, but they have not yet been chosen .
ACC’s interpretation of the fund seems to overestimate Aberdeen’s supreme position as leader of Scotland’s move to net zero emissions.
The City’s Urgent Business Committee approves a Socio –Economic Rescue plan. One of the items includes in it is a commitment for City Growth and Resources to work with ONE to develop the business case for phase I of the ETZ, including skills training. Other parties involved are Skills Development Scotland, North East College, Lochside Academy and Torry Locality Planning.
Scottish Council for Trade and Industry’s response to Freeports welcomes them in principle but has serious reservations about their global risks of freeports their negative impacts, and in the Scottish case, in the context of devolved areas of UK government policy. It does not see how they would benefit Scotland’s economy.
The co-leaders of the Aberdeen Council lobby Michael Gove for Aberdeen’s Freeport status and to discuss UK government fiscal incentives to encourage inward investment for energy transition. . EE article about the meeting which says Council have repeatedly asked Scotgov for support for NE to move away from oil and gas. Says ETZ could be a model for transition. Set out vision for transformation to a net zero city. Lumsden cites offshore wind construction and provide world class marine infrastructure . Refers to Aberdeen’s ambition .
Freeport Consultation from Scottish Council for Development and Industry is lukewarm about the idea. Not just because of legitimate concerns about activities such as deregulation, tax evasion and avoidance, money laundering, but those over the economy – would they stimulate or redistribute the economy, and how would UK wide ones fit into the devolution settlement?
Aberdeenshire going to object to the LDP - probably – still has to be authorised at council meeting - over OP 46.
Press reports that ONE is just starting to plan the ETZ , working with Aberdeen City Growth as outlined in the City’s Socio-economic rescue plan. Confirming that the claims for the ETZ in public statements from June 2019 onwards and in Feasibility Study were highly speculative.
Crown Estates Scotland gives Aberdeen a more modest role in Scotland’s transition to net zero than the proponents of the ETZ in its report of the roles for different Scottish ports in the development and operation of future offshore wind following the launch of the ScotWind leasing round. Seeing Aberdeen as the hub of an Aberdeenshire mini cluster and placing any manufacturing activities in East Tullos and Altens . Just as scenario 6 of the ETZ feasibility study does, and as the unsuccessful amendment of 2ndMarch to the PLDP did.
Biofab failure to obtain contracts for offshore turbine building flags up the structural weakness is the Scottish offshore renewables industry
Council approves the development of a green hydrogen hub in the region ( Aberdeenshire?) ie research into and develop of a hub to enable green hydrogen to replace blue hydrogen currently being used in the city. Blue green energy has applied for £15m from the Scottish Government’s £62 m fund announced earlier this year. Announced by City Growth and Resources committee convenor Douglas Lumsden. Looks as if it is the first stage of along process.
AHB updates the City Growth and Resources Committee on the progress of the Aberdeen South Harbour Extension. AHB has given a presentation to the City Region Deal Committee but there’s no record of it in the public domain . Covid is given all the blame for Dragados withdrawing from the contract in June . A letter from AHB to the Scottish Government asking for more financial support for the project and the government’s reply are in Appendix, but these are not publically available either. Strangely enough given all the publicity to decommissioning in the FS and in AHB’s own website, a feasibility study on the new harbours future as a decommissioning centre had been commissioned and completed as recently as just before June 2020 ,partially funded by £28,000 of money received from the Scottish Government’s Decommissioning Challenge Fund. The freeport idea is still be discussed though resulting financial benefits still need to be investigated. A new main contractor is not required, AHB is awarding contracts directly . Partial phased reopening is due in September 2021 and full opening in July 2022.
Activities in the ETZ and where it is are still vague. Manufacturing has now been downgraded to “potential manufacturing” .
History of Bifab’s demise and failure of Scotgov industrial policy – not stipulating supply chain conditions.
Scottish Government announces it can not longer support Bifab financially due to legal constraints which prevent any state aid to a company which is not economically viable. Bifb had been seen as the model for how offshore wind could drive the Scottish economy in the way that oil had once done. Casts further doubt on the rationale of offshore construction work in the ETZ doing the same for Aberdeen.
Aberdeen Economic Policy Plan Report 2020 published . One recommendation is that part of the city’s transition to net zero should be through provision of accessible and connected green space. It also stresses the importance of social and natural factors along with economic ones in improving Aberdeen as a place
Bid for freeports to start soon , at least one being considered for Scotland but the application process for it has not yet been agreed between Scot gov and UK gov. Local authorities had not been invited to submit ideas during the summer, and had been busy with the covid response anyway.
Public Consultation for the STAG2 options for the transport links from the new harbour , including those to East Tullos and Altens, and the Wellington Road corridor options starts. Open till 16th December. Not announced on the Council’s website till 26th November. A whole week of 3 weeks 5 days lost
Options have been developed to fit with the outline Business Case being prepared for the ETZ and the Wellington Road corridor needs. As the ETZ Phase 1 Business plan is not in the public domain that makes it difficult to analyse how the STAG2 options take the ETZ’s demands into account, or how important each demand is. Do activities located in St Fittick’s Park and Doonies have to be there? The Crown Office Scotland ports assessment places them all in East Tullos/Altens, as does option 6 in the FS.
The UK government cannot support Bifab by guaranteeing contracts either. Both cite legal reasons which the Unions want published. The Greens point out that European Countries have been investing ( is investment different from guaranteeing?) The Scottish government is setting up a task force to set up a working group to protect the existing supply chain. Opportunities to expand it ( eg in the ETZ) look bleak, as this news is described as a devastating blow for the renewables industry by Scottish Labour’s economy spokesman . Unions blame lack of support and investment from the Scottish and UK governments, and are calling for the legal advice to be published . The Scottish government blames the Canadian owners of Bifab for lack of working capital, investment and guarantees.
Bifab goes into administration. The company blames the failure of the UK government and the Scottish government to protect supply chains in the face of subsidised yards in and out of the EU. Both governments must support UK renewables industries so that the benefits of offshore renewables can be shared with communities. The Unions say this collapse shows the offshore renewables revolution for what it is. “Industrial ruin not the promised 28,000 jobs in renewable energy”. Energy correspondent’s Douglas Fraser says the same thing . It demonstrates that the ETZ’s strategy of relying on offshore wind for work is unrealistic unless there are big structural changes in government support. State ownership had been one option but was not taken up. Bifab had been just about to sign a letter of intent to enter an NnG contract that would have provided 500 jobs at the yard.
Analysis by Douglas Fraser refers to existing yards, without mentioning Aberdeen’s plans
“Energy and ambition will put the NE of Scotland at the heart of tackling climate change ….” More hype and no substance. Refers optimistic forecast by the UK Hydrogen Task Force worth £18 billion per annum ( by 2035) and supporting 75,000 jobs , new players ( renewables sector and innovative technology providers ) working with the oil and gas industry , (unnamed) partners and funders in industry, the public sector and Uk and Scottish government “ in anticipation of the vision becoming a reality” . All to drive hydrogen, the majority of which will be blue as it is linked to CCC at St Fergus. There is plenty of business speak , and vastly exaggerated claims for what can be achieved and the resulting benefits, going by experience of the offshore wind sector and CCC to date. ( Written by Martin McCormack , Director of Energy Transition Programme ,ONE
The Scottish government has come round to supporting Freeports after all but only if they provide inclusive growth, work practices there are fair and their economic activity is a net zero one. This is the antithesis of the usually accepted model and the Scottish Greens are sceptical of potential greenwashing.
Meeting of the City Growth and Resources Committee . Item 10b iv Freeports - Welcomes what it describes as the Scottish Government U-turn on them, ignoring the different model envisaged from the UK free for all and instructing the City Growth officer to work with both governments, AHB and other unidentified stakeholders on feasibility study into one for Aberdeen and report back to the committee on 11th May 2021. . Item 17 – Report of the STAG2 appraisal of transport links between the South Harbour and Tullos, recommends option 4 , the Coast Road. Lowest cost and most feasible technically, environmentally and most publicly acceptable. Taking account of needs of the ETZ, added during the middle of the consultation. The Committee accepted the reports recommendation and will ask the Chief Officer Capital to prepare a business case for it and report to the City Region Deal Committee. The continuing appraisal for the Wellington Road improvements should proceed on the basis that the route from the South Harbour to East Tullos is option 4 – the Coast road . STAG 2 appraisal of that will be reported to the Council in June 2021.
The full report states that there are as yet no details of what the activities to be carried out in site the ETZ sites in OP 56 and 61 are. The masterplan is still being written, by the ETZ masterplanning team” and one of the difficulties of incorporating the needs of the ETZ into the assessment is “the absence of definitive information on the exact nature of development at the proposed ETZ” (p8) .
Submissions to the PLDP are made available . There are 1195 of them –they have to be searched by name of respondee or response number. Friends of St Fittick’s Park analyses them and find 199 were to OP56, OP61 or OP61+56 – strong feelings expressed and well constructed arguments. Plenty of different grounds . 4 Statutory Consultees : SEPA, Nature Scot, Historic Scotland and Scottish Forestry all consider rezoning of St Fittick’s Park is completely inappropriate
ScotWind leasing put on hold ( with Scottish Government approval) for review, because of high price bids in the English/Welsh Round 4 process. It used an auction in which oil majors (but not Shell) offered much more money than established renewable firms. In contrast to the ScotWind one using lower price guidelines , which Crown Estate Scotland feared would underprice Scottish sites . Closing date will not be on 31st March 2021 after all. Which is 14 months later than originally planned. Continuing uncertainly in the ETZ’s feasibility. … “changed market dynamics round offshore wind leasing, which could have significant implication for offshore wind development in Scotland”
Methil and Arnish Bifab yards bought out of administration by Infrastrata
Complaint about lack of discussion with the public about ETZ proposals. Rebutted by ACC and ONE on basis of PLDP consultation and examination. ONE maintains that it’s committed to community involvement right from the start and talks up “community supported projects” that provide amenities.
Michelle Handforth resigns as Chairman of Aberdeen Harbour Board to take up a post as Managing Director of Wales and Western region of Network Rail . She will leave in the summer . Business as usual but “all hands on deck”.
The title sheet on the Land Register entry for the Lands of Torry , Balnagask estate and Nigg Bay shows a lease of most of St Fittick’s park by ACC in favour of AHB has now been recorded. It is not yet registered.
UK government North Sea transition deal – for the whole UK to protect existing supply chains in the Oil and Gas industry and to use them to decarbonise by 2050. It will also invest in new technologies especially CCUS . Oil and gas production will continue. UK government will work with devolved administrations “where appropriate”
Bi-Fab back in business, as its new owners, Infrastrata, have won it a contract to build 8 jackets for turbines in the adjacent Neart nan Goaithe (NnG) windfarm. Work to start in July 290 jobs. Unions see it as the first step in a long process . More contracts are being negotiate . How did Infrastrata succeed when the previous owner had failed and when ScotGov and UK government had said they were unable to subsidise the yard by guaranteeing the contract price? It seems as if they are using all their construction sites to reduce costs but how is an unanswered question.
NE Scotland firms selected to take part in the Offshore Renewable Energy business initative to improve the ability of firms to obtain contracts for offshore wind work. Scottish scheme funded by ONE. ETZ and its unspecified activies talked up by Andy Rodden . Scotwind leasing stipulates that 25% of any work must be local – up from previous 10%.
Problems with offshore turbine cables at Orsted’s European windfarms, most off the coast of the UK are likely to “cause concern for investors” .
Bifab’s Burntisland site’s first tenant does not manufacture wind turbines . This yard was not bought by Infrastrata when the other two were.
Scepticism and despair at any Just Transition for Aberdeen because of structural flaws in government industrial policy and Scotland’s failure to develop new technology resulting doubts about offshore newable work . Aberdeen’s transition is being directed by the wrong people; Scottish Enterprise is inept and ideologically opposed to manufacturing. Aberdeen isn’t looking at the right innovative projects and research either. The author, Dick Winchester, is a member of the Scottish Government’s oil and gas energy transition leadership group. James Creswell is also sceptical about the ETZ “Energy Park”, going by the state of ONE’s Energy Park at Bridge of Don and because of the doubts about the amount of renewable offshore work there will be in the area we have already expressed.
Uncertainty about the location of the UK’s CCS “flagship” projects: Stephen Flynn writes to Kwasi Kwarteng , asking for clarity about where these will be, and confirmation that St Fergus will be one of them, stimulate investment for the Pale Blue Acorn project. Citing Aberdeen oil and gas job losses as the justification for that. The company was acquired by Storegga Geotechnologies, in 2020 . In April 2021 Shell and Harbour Energy became equal partners in it.
Deidre Michie, the CEO of OGUK, seeks support from newly elected North East MSPs for support for the oil and gas industry on the basis of their contribution to the energy transition so far.
From Agenda documents for City Growth and Resources Committee: the business case for the ETZ is be being developed p 198 , p 206 , p 212; Aims of the Local Development Plan include public health priorities as well as economic sustainability p 200;sSee promotion of city’s parks and open spaces, including nature sites, for improved physical and mental health promotion of tourism, linked to active travel projects p209 and citizen engagement project to record city sights and sounds in city parks and open spaces , including nature sites; physical and mental health, promotion of bidoversity, mental health etc , promoting Aberdeen as a destination p 209.
.BP and EnBW announce a portal for Scottish companies or those intending to locate in Scotland to note an interest is obtaining a subcontract in designing, constructing , servicing and operating offshore wind assets from companies who end up obtaining a licence in the forthcoming Scotwind leasing round
Trust ports getting agitated by the delay to discussions about Greenports – England is ahead and offshore work is going to English “facilities”
There has been a downturn in decommissioning activity, so the resulting price reduction from competition has made business the case difficult, therefore difficult to attract investment – not looking good for the ETZ’s vaunted prospects in that area.
Contracts awarded for turbine construction, installation and maintenance for Dogger Bank C - the world’s largest offshore wind farm . 470 jobs over 3 years in different NE England ports . Not really that impressive, a long way to go to reach the promised thousands.
Forth Ports announces £40 million investment in improving its current facilities for offshore work and establishing new ones for manufacturing and set down, in a “greenport” . Sounds very like the ETZ proposals but it’s bigger and all one, flat site. It’s a rival claimant for the role of “Scotland’s premier offshore energy park”.
Q&A session following the launch of the University’s Centre for Energy Transition.Martin McCormack, Energy Transition Director of ONE, describes a Hydrogen Campus near/next to (?) the South Harbour to research and test hydrogen uses , using hydrogen piped ashore at the South Harbour, as part of the Dolphyn Project . Hyped up as usual even though the project is only at the proof of concept stage and the details not as firm as Martin said they were. We asked “how near?”
Closing date for applications for the post of Project Co-ordinator for ETZ Ltd to assist the CEO and senior staff develop and manage the ETZ implementation plan ( the one there is nothing about in the public domain)
In contrast to the upbeat press release on 14th May , AHB is now warning that the green infrastructure aspect of the Aberdeen Harbour Expansion project may not be viable because of funding difficulties which the Board blames on the Covid crisis. It calls for more money from the Scottish Government because the new harbour is currently a National Project and is vying to become one of Scotland’s version of England’s Free Ports i.e. a Green Port. Ryan Houghton, Convenor of the City Growth and Infrastructure Committee, says it deserves Scotgov support. However, Scotgov does not appear to agree with him, so AHB is now appealing to the UK government. The green infrastructure includes the hydrogen feasibility studies cited on 31st May. The doubt about the ETZ’s future renders the establishment of ETZ Ltd even more mysterious.
The PLDP schedule report appears on the Council’s meetings website . OP56 and 61 are issue 17; related issues are 19,20 and 38 . A summary of what happens next and the Council’s response to submissions are also published. Issue 17 covers p 299 – 335, the Council’s response starts on p 315 with a general section (p315 – 319) setting the context of rezoning St Fittick’s Park and Doonies Farm in terms of the economic factors and their necessary (for the Council) dominance over all other considerations, with extensive references to the City Region and the need for a PLDP to change quickly in response to changing external conditions, in particular the urgency of reducing carbon dioxide emissions. Even so, there is not the convincing evidence of firm proposals for feasible projects to achieve this aim that would justify the stance the council has taken, against a strongly worded completely opposing view from NatureScot (Issue 38). It regards protection of the East Tullos Burn , its wetlands , trees and wildflowers planting under policy NE2 (green and blue infrastructure) as crucial which advocates protecting so much of the Park that the remaining unprotected section it would not be economically feasible to develop. In spite of ignoring arguments against rezoing the Park and Doonies, the Council has not given the ETZ team and AHB the free for all over green belt and urban green space policies for ETZ activities it had asked for in its submissions to the PLDP. (Issues 19, 20 and 38) .
Scottish government announces it is giving £26m from the £62m NE Energy Transition Fund it established in June 2020 to the ETZ next to the South Harbour. It matches the £27m given in March 2021 by the UK government. (Will some of this money provide the funding the South Harbour is looking for???) Given the lack of detail of what’s proposed it’s hard to see where the 2500 direct jobs or the 10,000 transition-related ones predicted to materialise by 2030 will come from, or what these jobs will be, especially as along with the usual hype from Maggie McGinlay comes a caveat that there’s a lot of work to be done to “realise this ambition”. Michael Matheson, Cabinet Secretary for Net Zero, Energy and Transport, thinks the transition enabled by the money will be a fair one for everyone. Maggie McGinlay is promising extensive consultation with the local community .
The PLDP and Schedule 4s are presented to the full Council (recording available till 20.6.22) which authorises its submission to the Scottish government for examination unchanged.
A more sober view of the ETZ project: I is “not without its challenges” – principally funding in spite of the funding of £60m clocked up to date, from the UK (£ 27m) and Scottish governments (£23m) and from ONE (£10m).
£250,000 Masterplanning contract for the ETZ is put out to tender; the 12 month contract is for a consultancy team to prepare the Master plan for OP56, 61 and 62, which the PLDP requires to be submitted with any planning applications for developments there, and to obtain planning permission in principle. The transformation of Aberdeen into a net zero city will be over 29 years. A new activity is proposed, along with the usual – tidal.
ETZ Ltd announces the establishment of the National Skills Accelerator (NESA) which will provide a “one-step shop” for industry to access course skills, development programme and R&D capabilities (?) to provide training for energy transition. It will co-ordinate training provided by its constituent institutions. It will form part of the ETZ in Aberdeen, earmarked for “land near the new South Harbour” . Funding is now £80m – where has the extra £27m from the last announcement come from. What does “forming part of “ mean. A skills academy had always been part of the project. RGU, Aberdeen University and NESCOL will collaborate in NESA, supported ( funded?) by Skills Development Scotland and ETZ Ltd. Skills Development was always going to be involved. ETZ Ltd thinks other “partners may join NESA over time” . Chairman of NESA’s Board is Paul de Leeuw, director of RGU’s the Energy Transition Institute . More talking up from Maggie McGinlay who used the same 2,500 direct and 10,000 indirect jobs from the ETZ.
Scottish Government announces a new Advisory Council to develop Scotland’s 10-year Strategy for Economic Transformation to transform economy as the country the recovers from covid and transitions to net zero . The strategy will be published in late autumn. One of the 17 members is Maggie McGinlay, and her name is at the top of the list, of business people, academics, union reps, university reps , ex UK civil Sir Nicholas McPherson, but no health or social sector reps. However, there is a public consultation period until 27th August 2021. (5th on the list is Dame Sharon White, chairman of John Lewis Partnership – rather ironic from Aberdeen and the NE’s point of view) .
UK government is determined to roll out its freeport model and ignore the Scottish greener version
FairfieldDecom, established in 2019 confirms it has ceased trading because the “rhetoric doesn’t match the reality”. It has been difficult to obtain funding.
Sir Ian Wood is 2nd on the Ferret’s list of the 10 most powerful people in Scotland. ONE Board members Deidre Michie is number 8 . Scottish Power CEO number 9 . Among public bodies personnel is Adrian Gillespie, previously on ONE’s Board and that of its predecessor Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire Economics Future., now rejoining Scottish Enterprise as Chief Commercial Officer.
Previsouly SE’s Director of Energy and Low carbon technologies, where he led SE’s oil and gas and offshore renewable activities.
Previously SE’s Director of Energy and Low carbon technologies, where he led SE’s oil and gas and offshore renewable activities.
A very similar inbalance of power influencing decisions about an areas future, involving Scotland’s biggest landowner, Anders Povslen and his rewilding /high end tourism company Wildland Leisure versus the small Melness Crofters and the community group Space Port United residents
ScotWind leasing closes at 5pm today. The number of bidders will be announced next week and the successful ones early next year. It will then take several years for any particular wind farm to be developed. The number of jobs there will be in Scotland is still highly uncertain .
Scottish Enterprise, HIE enterprise, Crown Estates Scotland report “Port Enhancement for Offshore Wind” , a follow-up to its September 2020 report on Ports for Offshore wind, assesses expansion beyond the current size Aberdeen South harbour to be “moderately feasible”, the consenting feasibility component being on the border line of low and moderate. It would provide 6ha of 61 ha in the North East ( Orkney, Nigg, Comarty and Aberdeen). Consenting probability of Orkney, Cromarty Nigg is high and they are nearer to current and future Scotwind licence areas. The press reports ( eg ) them as the best location Scottish offshore wind support
Wood Mckenzie decides that the net zero hub that’s key to Scotland’s reaching net zero by 2045 is the one in the Firth of Forth
UK government releases its Hydrogen Strategy with is received with caveats in some quarters. Detailed figures are needed for investors to decide whether to invest, depending on feasibility and there is doubt over supporting blue hydrogen as well as green . The former would prolong dependence on fossil fuels, some of which will be imported.
Reports of Clive Jackson’s resignation asChairman of the UK Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Association on Monday on the grounds that projects are not sustainable (will prolong the dependence on fossil fuels so that the UK will not meet its decarbonisaton goals) , and will need support from the UK taxpayer because oil companies have lied to the Treasurary about projects’ high costs . As CEO of Proteus, which is developing green hydrogen projects, he was unable to remain neutral.
Scottish Offshore Wind Strategic Investment report from the Scottish Offshore Wind Council released. It recommends a strategic approach, developing a cluster of ports centred round those in the Cromarty Firth. It points out that previous forecasts of the number of jobs from offshore wind have vastly over-optimistic, even on the most cautious scenario. Aberdeen South’s estimated future capacity (12.5 ha of quayside + 6 ha ( St Fittick’s Park??) is the smallest and its potential is moderately ( quayside – certain, the Park ??) – clearly shown graphically on p Reported and analysed by BBC Scotland’s business correspondent. Douglas Fraser “Experts Focus on Cromarty Firth” , which have all the requirements : deep water, dockside space, skills and readiness. Fraser comments on the report’s “refreshing bluntness” over “the gap between overblown rhetoric/ambition and what has been achieved in the past 10 years”.
Another great white hope for green jobs in Scotland, Korean owned CS Wind at Campbeltown, turbine tower manufacturer, goes into administration. It is yet another example of the overoptimistic green jobs bonanza from wind, slated by Unite. CS wind had been unable to obtain a contract for work for the Kincardine wind farm by spring 2020 . The owners view of uncertain unsustainable market conditions, when the market is set to expand is challenged by DouglasFraser . He attributes lack of scale as the fundamental weakness of CS Energy and Bifab.
9th ETZ Ltd announces the appointment of Ironside Farrar as Masterplanning Consultations. The company promises the consultants will “play a key role in engaging with the community and other stakeholders throughout the masterplanning process.” Which will draw up the as yet unformulated “detailed proposals” and obtain planning permission in principle. The appointment is 5 weeks later than scheduled in the Instructions to Tenders document.
Green MSP Maggie Chapman’s motion “A Just Transition for Torry” debated at Holyrood. Supported by 5 other MSPs: 1 Green, two Labour and one SNP ( Aberdeen South and South Kincardineshire, Audrey Nicoll. Cross party support. The debate and transcript. The debate highlights issues of social and environmental justice in the face of the necessary and supported transition to net zero, and that the choices made for St Fittick’s Park future are an examplar for similar ones that will have to be made elsewhere. Pointing out availability of alternative sites for activities that have been proposed for the Park. It also referred to the confusion surrounding the ETZ concept. Where is it? What activities are planned where? How far advanced are plans for these activities (including Ian Wood’s notorious “shovel ready” comment (see April 23rd ) . In addition it covered the newer, wider view of a just transition away from the earlier purely economic one to cover the social and environmental justice already mentioned – being advocated by the University’s centre for Energy Transition, Moving onto the democratic deficit which would not have occoured if the community had been involved before the Park and Doonies farm were scheduled for rezoning for development . And then to the impossibility of mitigating the damage development would do. Support of a kind for the motion from Liam Kerr who place great trust that Ironside Farrar , the consultants who will assess the sites and write the master plan that must accompany any planning application will involve the community to find a “creative and sustainable solution” and that safeguards for biodiversity are “in place” . And from Richard Lochhhead (Minister for Just Transition, Employment and Fair Work) , who endsores the wider view of a just transition - achieved with the consent of those affected. He also announces that second Commission for a Just Transition has been set up, to be chaired by Jim Skea who led the first one.
Finally it appears that Richard Lochhead accepts Maggie’s invitation to visit the Park – something Audrey Nicoll has been advocating
Douglas Lumsden accuses Scot gov in Parliament of abandoning its commitment the ETZ after going into partnerhip with the Greens – to him the greens are the “tail “ wagging the dog in the “coalition of chaos”. No firm support for ETZ plans (the ones no-one knows about) . Once again the ETZ is “transformational” . Michael Mathieson , Cabinet secretary for Net Zero and Transport isn’t quite correct when he overstates scot gov support for the ETZ at £62 million, though.
What could be an innovative method of public consultation: the Torry People’s assembly, where the plan was for groups of people to share their thoughts and ideas on a proposal for the Park’s future from ETZ Ltd and on one for an asset transfer for the Park from which a solution to the conflict between the two would emerge. It might not be final but would open to change later. Somewhat blunted as ETZ Ltd felt unable to take part because its proposal is still not fully formed, and won’t be until the as yet to start master planning process has considered all the issues and consulted several unidentified “stakeholders” and community groups . It offered to present its plans for this engagement instead. A misunderstanding of the assembly process which would have enabled everyone involved to consider them whilst the proposal was being formed
Aberdeen University divests from fossil fuel investment due to student pressure, in spite of having links to the city’s Oil and Gas industry .
Scotland and England will be setting up separate kinds of Freeports, Scot gov and UK gov having failed to agree on a separate model for Scotland using reserved and devolved , to suit Scotland’s different economic needs. UK gov will set up at least one UK Freeport in Scotland, bypassing the devolution settlement, “putting a Union Flag on priority projects” , which it hopes to announce early next year. Scotgov one Greenport. The Freeport will take advantage of the wider range of reserved tax breaks than those available to Scotland’s Greenports, and hence greater incentives. Greenports will have export promotion areas, will pay the a minimum wage at Real Living Wage rates and will focus on renewable energy. Freeports won’t and will pay the Living Wage, less than the Real Living Wage. The Green party will have influenced Scot gov in standing firm for its Greenport model.
Foreign investors may be confused. Will they be able to play off one kind of port against the other, even though that’s more expensive and inefficient?
ETZ Ltd appoints Shepherd and Wedderburn as its lawyers, advising on all corporate, property, construction and regulatory matters. The large firm, with 90 lawyers in its Clean Energy Group and 30 years experience in the field boasts of “the perfect blend of skills to help ETZ Ltd realise its ambitions”. This blend includes experience in advising leading windfarm developers and beating off legal challenges eg RSPB appealing Scotgov’s decision to approve Neart nan Goaithe in the Supreme Court. Maggie McGinlay is delighted, as is Colin Robertson, partner in the firm’s property and infrastructure team.
United Nations recognises the basic Human Right to a clean, healthy environment, giving it international recognition. The Scottish Government, which will be incorporating that right into its forthcoming Human Rights bill, welcomes this development as it will help Scots law to become aligned to international standards.
A consortium including TotalEnergies announces plans to develop a hydrogen hub at Flotta, Orkney, if its Scotwind bid is successful
TotalEnergies announces the opening of its UK Offshore Wind Energy Hub in Aberdeen , where it will direct all its UK offshore wind projects. Building on its O&G experience to enable its O&G staff to move to renewable energy, with aims to use a large proportion of Scottish firms in its supply chain.
The Acorn project – the Scottish CCUS Hub is not awarded UK government funding as a Phase one CCUS project, although it had been described as a “no brainer” and “shovel ready”, lobbying by Sir Ian Wood et al and in the face of huge expectations that it would be successful . A huge blow to the O&G industry and Scottish government’s net zero strategy, described as a snub by the UK government to the NE.
Nicola Sturgeon announces that unlimited extraction of oil and gas is not sustainable, and the Scottish Government would not longer support it at a speech to Strathclyde University Students 6 days before COP26 starts in Glasgow, thereby stepping away from previous support for the O&G industry’s continuing to do that, backing off from using maximum hydrocarbon recovery to justify CCS, but still advocating its contribution to net zero transition. Even so, regards the decision not to award tier 1 funding to the Acorn project inexplicable. (separate article) Also announces the development of a £500 m Just Transition Fund focussing on the NE of Scotland. Deidrie Michie of OGUK refers to a just transition in purely economic terms.
Climate change campaigners welcome the change in the Scottish Government’s attitude but stipulates that these words must be followed by action
ETZ Ltd appears to be extending the area of the ETZ into North Sea oiland gas fields by encouraging it to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from the O&G industry’s offshore operations.
Ocean Wind, Aker’s manifesto for a “green industrial revolution “ in Scotland . It includes construction of a manufacturing and assembly site, somewhere, for steel based foundations for floating wind turbines, using proven WindFloat technology. The project will be publicised globally among manufactures with a 3-D model developed with Strathclyde University and the National Manufacturing Institute of Scotland, and the site identified after consultation with them. The basis of the partnership’s Scotwind bid.
Treasury expects oil and gas revenues to be higher than forecast, and has been criticised for lack of clarity over Track 2 CCUS projects
Michelin’s tyre factor redevelopment is the way to replace old jobs with new: a benchmark for industries and communities. Realising the issues are complex, not trying to do everything, working with communities in new and unusual ways , being transparent : an example of what we’ll have to do and how we should do it . It’s in the right place too – a brownfield, flat site 32 ha site, all in one place.
COP26 event discussing financing of projects - a business has to show it's transitioning to net zero effectively when the balance between risk and opportunity is assessed.
Draft National Planning Framework 4 ( NPF4) published. The top tier in Scotland’s planning hierarchy. The ETZ isn’t one of the National Projects, in spite of ETZ Ltd high confidence expressed in the Instruction to Tenderers Document that the application for it would be successful though Aberdeen Harbour is. Instead it is listed in appendix A as a site with potential “for positive effects on people/inclusive growth/place. (though those on people and place in the St Fittick’s Park site are hard to understand given the social and environmental damage from the activities proposed there) . There is a fudge around any “industrial and business developments” outwith the South Harbou12which would be regulated by the Local Development Plan.
There is consternation from Ian Wood at the City Region Deal meeting about the delay in building the link road between the South Harbour which will give “us” big problems if it’s not sorted out. He seems unaware that planning and funding have to follow due process and that part of the delay is due to the lack of information about what ETZ activities will be where the planners and funders required which they had not been given. But the meeting is to “forget about the ETZ” it’s the Harbour that matters. Is that what St Fittick’s Park has been for all along? Contingency measures to cope with an unknown amount, but a “good deal” of traffic will take the traffic through Torry, possibly by two routes. Consternation all round when the participants know that 'Henry Kissinger' had been admitted.
£40m investment for Leith by BP to develop about 25 ha laydown space and 17 ha quayside space for “green” manufacturing – complementing its investment in Aberdeen’s as yet to be defined hydrogen hub.
Aberdeen University appoints geologist Prof. John Underhill of Heriott Watt University as permanent director for the Centre of Energy Transition. He’s looking forward to ensuring the North East has a “just, fair and affordable transition”. The University has also appointed Directors of the new interdisciplinary Centre for Health, Nutrition and Wellbeing and one for the Centre for Social Inclusion and Cultural Diversity, with one on a centre for Environment and Biodiversity to follow.
Ardersier, the biggest browfield port in the UK ( approx 200 ha of very flat land) is being developed into an circular energy transition site, using recycled oil rigs to manufacture offshore wind turbine foundations - soon . It used to employ 4,500, and will become the largest offshore wind fabrication, manufacturing and assembly site in the UK.
Operator of St Fergus gas plant, Px group, is looking for another green energy hub with which it can be involved and settled on the ETZ. Chief exec states there are projects ready to go, which is strange as that’s not what we’re hearing from Ironside Farrer who’s first public consultation event is tomorrow.
Construction of the largest offshore wind turbine steel turbine manufacture site to be started early in 2022, if finances are finalised. For floating and fixed turbines in the UK and Europe. £100m funding, 400 hundred jobs, 1800 indirect jobs in Scotland.
First of a series of workshops involving Ironside Farrar and individuals in the community . This one presents potential activities in the Park, East Tullos and Altens, and aims to find out what people not already consulted as part of a community group think. It is well attended and universal opposition forcibly expressed . No one knows which groups have met the masterplanning consultants. The format of the boards and of the event did not indicate a particularly innovative process which the Instruction Tenderers had suggested might happen.
Open Letter from Torry Medical Practice lead GP and other medical staff from all over the city released to the press, Councillors and MSPs
Adrian Croft’s Open letter really hits home to the P&J’s Alistair Glossip in his long article. Usual response from Maggie and the Council about people’s views being listened to and opportunity to express views during planning application consultations.
A letter from 58 members of Grampian Chamber of Commerce, Scottish Chamber of Commerce and British Chamber of Commerce requesting a “reasoned debate” about the role of O&G in the UK’s energy mix, focussing on the future of the North Sea O&G industry. Citing reduced investor confidence.
An interesting point in an article contrasting the announcement of a large wind turbine tower manufacturing facility at Nigg with Shell’s withdrawal from the Cambo oil field - from Jake Malloy, regional RMT organiser about the continued need for oil, but not as a fuel, and doubts about the jobs at Nigg being able to replace those lost from a too rapid cut back of the O&G industry.
Ben Houghton, Tory mayor of Teeside, which has just become a UK freeport, castigates the Scottish government green port model, saying at least 3 (unnamed) investors abandoned Scotland in favour of Teeside (to be announced in the next 6 months) because there are no9 Scottish freeports . Aberdeen+ Peterhead is one of 9 candidates for Scottish freeport status.
Cromarty is going to bid for freeport and greenport status. But do freeports generate new economic activity or just move it from somewhere else
Subsea Uk has renamed itself Global Underwater Hub and to transfer its oil and gas global subsea experience and knowledge into offshore wind . Sounds a lot more feasible than trying to cram wind turbine manufacture, in which supply chains have no experience, Or any other offshore wind industrial activity into 12 ha or so of St Fittick’s Park.
A report citing difficulties in making an economic case for hydrogen in Europe . The sources of demand are not yet firmly identified, which discourages investment, whilst creation of demand relies on a source. Collaberation and working together is needed. The Acorn project isn’t mentioned anywhere
As results day for the ScotWind leasing rounds approaches, contrasting views of the likelihood of much economic benefit from off shore wind. Cynicism from Peter Welsh ( GMB), based on past experience, (2800 jobs not 28,000)versus optimism from Paul O’Brien (DeepWind supply chain group) , on the belief that companies who have made promises won’t want to lose face by breaking them. Plus the low bid prices that makes riskier investment more feasible.
Cynicism here too – Jeremy Creswell thinks in spite of all the many promises the majority of work will continue to go abroad. What do the promises mean? How will Crown Estates enforce them? Even so he is optimistic about EnBw developments at Cromarty and especially Ardeseir , but dismisses Aberdeen’s ambition to be the offshore wind capital of Aberdeen, let alone Scotland. In the past he’d suggested it to develop servicing turbine heads, as it did for gas turbines in the oil and gas era. He cites Wood group plc’s involvement in offshore wind, but does not mention that it’s word wide, not in Aberdeen.
Vattenfall is upgrading the Offshore Wind deployment centre to produce hydrogen offshore and pipe it to a site on shore – as yet unidentified.
Examination of the PLDP starts but is unlikely to be finished by the target date of 2ndAugust 2022, which appears to have been set when the earliest start date for the examination was 1st December. The review of the current LDP was finished 10 months after the plan was received by the Planning and Environmental Appeals Division of the Scottish government, and not adopted for another 4 months.
Optimism and experience of offshore wind turbine jackets at the Bifab yards at Burntisland
Offshore wind isn’t the only route to transition – there’s geothermal , which has been neglected till now but has worldwide opportunities
ETZ Ltd’s website goes live– a last. Eight and a half months after the company was incorporated. Phrases “New Energy” “New Opportunity” “ A region renewed” “this is the time and Aberdeen is the place” indicate what the content is like. Just as PR and newspaper articles have been for the past two years, vague , unrealistic (eg CO2storage + hydrogen production – in Aberdeen), misleading – Scale next to a photo of the toxic no go area that is the Landfill site, vastly over-optimistic with unfounded grandiose ideas about Aberdeen’s and the North East’s importance internationally and when it comes to “the community” inaccurate. The widespread opposition on environmental and health grounds from the local community, many of Aberdeen’s doctors, 3 of its MSPs, 4 statutory consultees, the Scottish Wildlife Trust and elements of the media, in Scotland and abroad, are downplayed with any consultation over planning permission being limited to the statutory .
ScotWind leasing round results – announced. 6 licences to lead bidders and their partners in the Eastern block : area 1 BP Alternatives 2.9 GW fixed, areas 2 SSE 2.6 GW floating, area 3 Falk renewables 1.2 G floating, area 4 Shell 2 GW floating, area 5 Vattenfal 0.798 GW floating, area 6 ( the nearest to Aberdeen) DEME 1.008 GW fixed. No details of supply chain commitments made in developers Supply Chain Statements; they will be announced once agreements have been signed . However although there will be penalties for developers who do not honour the commitments, they are not legally obliged to do so and some commentators are uncertain that they will.
BPThough Aberdeen is to be BPs global centre for offshore wind operations and maintenance, there will be only 120 jobs. The bid will “unlock a number of investments across the country” and BP has already signed a memorandum of understanding with Forth Ports who are creating Scotland’s largest renewables hub at Leith. SSEpromises projects to enhance community wellbeing and describes its allocation as in the Firth of Forth . Falk renewables will be working in partnership with Energy4All to give communities a financial benefit from projects. It has been given licences in two other areas further north. No promises from Shell , nor from Vattenfalland there’s no information on DEME.
As usual Ian Wood’s overblown rhetoric about the North East as the net zero energy capital of Europe belies the complexity and uncertainty of ScotWind and the lead other countries have. Investment will flood into the ETZ where there will be“a brand new Offshore Wind Technology Centre” somewhere in it, taking advantage of proximity to the harbour and Aberdeen’s subsea engineering skills. It will “harness first mover advantage” to maximise significant floating opportunity. The 75% of the world’s sub sea capacity in the NE he refers to does explain why Aberdeen should be BP’s proposed centre for offshore wind, but maybe not why the region should be the most attractive locations for investment especially for offshore wind.
12 of the companies in the successful ScotWind consortia are foreign owned – Spain is involved in 6 of them. Does that bode well for Scottish supply chain involvement, especially when it does not have the relevant experience? Probably not – there is a danger that opportunity will be missed as it was in the oil and gas booms and busts.
On the other hand an article from the Global Underwater Hub, formerly Subsea UK, whilst still concerned about government support for investment, is relying on its subsea expertise to win supply chain work and mentions the “brand new Floating Offshore Wind Technology Centre” somewhere in the ETZ. Something to do with subsea engineering in things like floating foundation systems, mooring and anchoring systems , dynamic power cables and – wait for it “high value manufacturing” aspects that will become apparent sometime in the future. Things are complicated
A summary of the many obstacles in the way of an offshore wind supply chain boom in Scotland, including one that may affect the chain in Aberdeen: other countries have developed expertise in the “fixed bottom “ techniques which would be use to construct turbines in the DEME fixed wind site, which is the one nearest to the city.
Another expression of concern about the large amount of interest from foreign fabrication yards in ScotWind work. Sir Jim McDonald of the Scottish Offshore Wind Council advocates collaboration of Scottish ports in clusters as a way of overcoming this threat. A view that is not in keeping with the competitive mindset of the ETZ proponents.
Following Vattenfall’s application for screening opinion request from Marine Scotland for an onshore landing site for hydrogen from the Offshore Wind Deployment Centre, with one of the 5 potential sites at Girdleness, is that one use for the South Harbour and possibly the ETZ in the Park, following the Dutch strategy ?
Some consternation about human rights records and business practices of some of the successful Scotwind bidders, as well as about selling the licences too cheaply.
Options agreemenst due to be signed in April. “The devil in the detail” of the supply chain work that will be clearer then is cited. Planning for ScotWind 2 will start later this year, as so many of the 74 bidders will have been disappointed, but it is not known when the auction will start and if it is necessary for Scotland to reach Net Zero by 2045. Expect details of other ways developers can become involved in offshore wind in the Innovation and Targeted Oil and Gas leasing round (INTOG) ( to electrify O&G platforms)
Siemens Gamesa signs a condition agreement wit the Port of Nigg as the marshalling and assembly yard its Moray West offshore wind farm. This article includes a picture of previous marshalling at Nigg.
A good question from Dick Winchester – How can ScotWind trigger a Scttish supply chain boom when Scotland doesn’t currently have much of an offshore supply chain? He is very sceptical that imported high value offshore wind hardware (including from England ) can be avoided, because companies which might develop them are not receiving the support they should from Scotland’s enterprise agencies who prefer inward investment instead. Sir Ian Wood’s claim that the Offshore Technology Hub in the ETZ will have First mover advantage doesn’t add up, for that reason and if we did, a better place for it would be somewhere with experience of naval architecture, ie Glasgow. Only one of the 11 projects receiving UK government funding is in Aberdeen, and that only partially. As for Scotland, we are missing out on renewable opportunities , yet again.
OGUK joins the rebranding bandwagon and turns into Offshore Energies UK (OEUK). Oil and gas will stay the main activity of most of its members, whose main investments will still be there. CEO Deidre Michie's interview answers are couched in meaningless business speak. Reaction is mixed
Press release from Grampian Chamber of Commerce – City Growth and Resources expected to sign the deal with BP to develop the hydrogen hub – ACC and BP will form a new company –options for the source of green hydrogen : a solar farm or purchase of green electricity coupled to a private wire connection to hydrolysis plants. Is the solar farm in St Fittick’s Park?
Go big or go home – increasingly heavy offshore wind turbines need larger ships and heavier lifting gear. Would the South Harbour quays be able to cope? A shortage of ships is predicted by 2024.
At last the UK and Scottish Governments agree a freeport deal for Scotland- to set up 2 “Green Freeports”. The Scottish government maintains it can ensure that they will honour their commitments to decarbonisation to achieve net zero targets, paying the fair wage and of inclusive growth for communities. Its partner in government, the Greens, accuses it of greenwashing and of throwing public money away on Corporations that avoid paying tax, whilst there is also the question of whether the fudge is achievable. 8 areas apart from the Aberdeen City Region deal were interested last July, but no bidders have been announced yet. Bidding will open in the spring and it is hoped the 2 successful ones will start to operate in spring 2023.
It appears that now that the price of Brent Crude is around $95 a barrel oil and gas companies may be losing their enthusiasm for investment in renewables. Rebranded O&G companies and Offshore Energies UK, OEUK, formerly OGUK, get together to publicise their new found green credentials and ambition. Deidre Michie says OEUK will need to collaborate with existing renewables trade bodies, but reassures everyone there’s plenty of work to go round. John Underhill , the new director of Aberdeen University’s Centre for Energy Transition considers reports of the O&G sector’s demise is greatly exaggerated.
Many people’s low confidence in predictions of a renewable energy jobs bonanza in Scotland won’t be boosted by ONS data showing that the number fell last year for the fourth year running. Unions blame the continuing lack of an industrial strategy to support them.
Even though AHB has waiting for details of green freeports and has therefore not committed itself to applying for an Aberdeen City Region one, CEO Bob Sanguinetti is making dismal projections of the North East “not being able to realise its full potential on the road to renewable energy and net zero ” if it doesn’t. Why is AHB wondering whether to apply when it is so sure of green freeport status advantages. Not everyone agrees that arrangements such as “reining back planning permission “ , “tax incentives” and “customs arrangements “ where new business can flourish are ones they want to see. More talk of an “industrial energy park” for “high end manufacturing and assembly “ in 30 – 40 ha of adjacent land. Not every one is happy about that in St Fittick’s Park either and currently there are no firm plans for what will happen anywhere. Master Plan consultants Ironside Farrar are finding that technical appraisal of sites to identify constraints and opportunities is taking longer than anticipated. The Aberdeen City Region is one of a total of 9 potential applicants for two green freeports. Results to be announced in the summer.
At last – a firm proposal for the ETZ – a world-first floating wind power centre. “It will be in Altens”