One of the UK’s leading business figures found out at first hand yesterday about the importance to the north-east of new tax breaks for the oil and gas industry.
CBI deputy director general John Cridland was in Aberdeen to get a feel for the local economy.
He soon discovered that oil and gas tax concessions announced by Chancellor Alistair Darling on Wednesday were likely to affect all sorts of firms in the area and not just those directly involved in the North Sea.
Mr Cridland said: “The message I am getting is that these tax breaks are very welcome but slightly overdue.
“We need to get every last drop of oil and gas out the North Sea.”
He said firms throughout the UK were more upbeat about their prospects now the country was officially out of recession, but there was also a widespread mood of caution. He added: “Nobody is expecting the economy to take off in a big way during 2010. Growth will be slow and modest rather than spectacular.
“At the CBI, we don’t think the economy will go backwards again . . . but there will be some hiccups along the way.”
The “on switch” has been pressed on offshore wind developments and the challenge now is for the UK to take advantage, Energy Minister Lord Hunt said yesterday.
During a visit to a Scottish Enterprise/Crown Estate green-energy supply-chain event in Aberdeen he also said Scottish opposition to new nuclear power stations represented a real missed opportunity.
On the potential for offshore windpower, Lord Hunt said it was a sector that would receive major investment.
He added: “You can look to a stable, regulatory and financial regime for many years to come.
“As we come out of recession I cannot think of a sector in which we have more confidence of a stable environment for growth, investment, skills and jobs.”
Lord Hunt also highlighted the oil and gas industry’s key role in making the change to a low-carbon economy.
He said: “There can be no doubt that skills from the oil and gas sector are translatable into offshore wind.”