Business chiefs backing a new green freeport for the north-east have spelled out why the region ticks all the boxes in a letter to the new prime minister.
As well as PM Liz Truss, the letter has gone to Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng, Levelling Up Secretary Simon Clarke, Scottish Secretary Alister Jack and Chris Skidmore, the Conservative MP for Kingswood, in South Gloucestershire.
Mr Skidmore was appointed by the PM to conduct a review in to how the
UK can meet its net-zero ambitions in the most economically efficient way.
The north-east’s credentials for boosting UK energy security are highlighted in the letter.
Ms Truss is reminded of her own admission that government has not done enough in the past to protect Britain from volatile oil and gas supplies.
The UK Government’s net-zero commitments are another area where a green freeport zone covering Aberdeen and Peterhead can deliver, the letter says.
The document is signed by Aberdeen City Council leader Alex Nicoll, Aberdeenshire Council leader Mark Findlater, the chief executives if both the Port of Aberdeen and Peterhead Port Authority, North East Scotland Green Freeport (NESGF) interim chairman Andrew Ritchie and oil and gas veteran Sir Ian Wood, among others.
The signatories represent partners in the NESFG green freeport bid.
Their letter says: “Owing to a world-class oil and gas industry, this region is home to 75% of the world’s subsea capability and over 1,000 energy supply chain companies – the critical mass of skills and infrastructure required to accelerate our transition to new energies.
“The opportunities are huge. Seventy per cent of the ScotWind licences awarded, totalling a massive 18GW of offshore wind power, are within 100 nautical miles of Aberdeen and Peterhead.
“The waters off the coast of Peterhead are one of the most cost-effective locations to accelerate carbon capture and storage (CCS) and there is significant untapped potential linked to these activities in green and blue hydrogen.
“Crucially, a successful green freeport bid will accelerate the Scottish Cluster at St Fergus, effectively helping to offset the delay from the UK Government’s previous decision not to allocate it track 1 status and opening a window of opportunity to develop a world leading position for a comprehensive range of energy transition activities.”
The letter continues: “We recognise and welcome your public support for further oil and gas production, but to truly ensure long term and sustainable security of supply, we must broaden our energy mix and incentivise the diversification of our existing industry toward investment in new and green energies.
“We have a proven track record of delivering innovative and technological solutions to
maximise opportunities, contributing massively to the economic prosperity of the country for the last 50 years.
“The recent windfall tax on energy companies, largely operating in and round Aberdeen, which boosted public finances to address the cost-of-living crisis is a timely reminder of this.”
32,000 new jobs
Green freeport status for Aberdeen and Peterhead is expected to create 32,000 jobs and provide an economic boost worth £8.5 billion over the next decade.
Together with CCS plans for the region, the joint bid is also forecast to deliver better livelihoods and a big investment in net-zero infrastructure.
It is also hoped a vehicle dubbed as “the most energy efficient car on the planet” could be built in Aberdeen, creating more than 800 jobs, on the back of green freeport status.
Two green freeports are due to be announced imminently but there is a growing clamour in the north and north-east to make it three.
NESGF’s bidding rivals include Opportunity Cromarty Firth, Orkney Council, Firth of Forth Green Freeport and Clyde Green Freeport.