Residents of Torry have voiced their outrage at the arrival of a towering oil rig at the Port of Aberdeen which they say is being imposed on the community “without any consultation”.
Friends of St Fitticks Park (FoSFP) – a community group who have been spearheading a spirited fight against the encroachment of industry in the area – hit out at the “secrecy” of port bosses.
The Noble Innovator jack-up oil rig is the largest ever vessel to visit Port of Aberdeen.
It stands on legs more than 650ft high and arrived at the new multi-million-pound south harbour on Saturday before starting work for energy giant BP later this year.
Campaigners are aggrieved by what they see as a lack of consultation on activities of the port as well as plans for the expansion of a heavy industrial park, the Energy Transition Zone (ETZ), around the new £400 million harbour.
The developments follow the establishment of the new incinerator at Altens in an area that already holds a wastewater plant and landfill area.
FoSFP members said the rig makes a “mockery” of the Port of Aberdeen’s status as a trust port, which includes obligations to consult with stakeholders including the local community.
Scott Herrett said: “Yet again the Port of Aberdeen show their contempt to the people of Torry with the secrecy behind the arrival of this skyscraper oil rig.
“Heavy industry is being imposed on the community without any consultation and experience has shown that the promised jobs never come as described or benefit the local community.
“This is an example of a business-as-usual, top-down decision making with no community input.”
FoSFP member Richard Caie said the rig reduced residents’ amenity: “The new harbour has already torn up the beach and taken away the view of the sea for those who visit St Fittick’s Park and now we’re being overshadowed by this huge rig.
“If this is the kind of work they’re bringing to the harbour, then it will likely be extremely noisy and add light pollution for those living here 24/7.
“This is bad for the health and wellbeing of people in Torry, who already suffer from generally poor health outcomes compared to other parts of the city.
“The park should be a place of peace and quiet and abundant nature not an add-on to an industrial estate.”
Ishbel Shand said: “This certainly gives the lie to the protestations of the people behind the land grab that this was about ‘energy transition’. It’s about maximising corporate profits.
“The community welcomes an energy transition but it must be a just transition, meaning frontline communities like Torry are directly involved in decision-making. This is not what’s happening here.
“This is part of the slow creep by the Port of Aberdeen, oil industry,
ETZ Ltd and Opportunity North East to industrialise our last green spaces which will ramp up unbearable noise levels and light pollution.
“The support for the campaign is growing locally and nationally and we will continue to fight any further industrialisation of St Fittick’s Park and Doonies Farm.”
Port of Aberdeen bosses want the harbour to become a leading location for jack-up maintenance.
The vessels are common in Dundee and the Cromarty Firth but Aberdeen could not previously accommodate them due to water depths.
Noble Innovator will spend between 60 and 90 days at the South Harbour.
It is destined for decommissioning work in the central North Sea.
Port of Aberdeen has said the work will benefit the region’s economy and create new jobs through a “multi-million pound investment in local contract awards”.
It said: “Port of Aberdeen takes its responsibilities as a trust port seriously and regularly engages its wide range of stakeholders, including the local community.
“We recently held a ‘Community Q&A’ session, which had a focus on the new vessels visiting South Harbour. We discussed port activities in online local community forums, engaged with local community groups and schools, and welcomed the public to the South Harbour visitor centre to see the project first hand.
“South Harbour has been designed to accommodate larger vessels which would previously have sailed by the city. This opens new opportunities for growth in oil and gas, renewables, decommissioning, cargo and cruise.
“This increased activity supports local jobs, attracts local supply chain spend and investment, and our profits are reinvested to improve the port facilitates for future generations.
“Our vision is to be Scotland’s premier net-zero port, offering world-class facilities and services, at the heart of the nation’s energy transition efforts.
“When the expanded Port of Aberdeen reaches its full potential, it will increase the number of jobs supported to 17,500 (+40%) and (gross value added) contribution to £2.4 billion (+60%).”