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Opinion: We must be careful not to overreact

Councillor Jim Gifford
Councillor Jim Gifford

Once the details of the summit are announced, Aberdeenshire Council will make sure it is fully involved.

The oil and gas industry is incredibly important, not only to the North East economy, but to the economy of Scotland and the rest of the UK.

We have established good working relationships with the private sector over many years and understand the challenges facing the energy industry today.

The area benefits when oil prices are high, but this also brings challenges impacting on house prices and affecting the local recruitment market. It’s important that we consider the impact of falling oil prices, the likely effect on the economy and steps we can collectively take to support the industry.

However, we must also be careful not to overreact to circumstances over which we have limited, if any, control and talk ourselves into a problem that is bigger than it really is. We know that the industry is cyclical and has highs and lows determined by the world-wide price of oil.

Over recent weeks we have seen some parts of the oil and gas industry reduce their costs by shedding jobs and reducing pay.

However, anyone who spends time in and around Aberdeen will know that the market has become over-heated with spiralling house prices and the public sector simply unable to recruit to posts due to the high salaries being offered by the private sector.

There are still plenty of opportunities for people who want to work in the area, and I believe the effect of the oil prices will start to redress the balance of the local economy.

Oil and gas is a global industry, and the oil prices are affected by situations far outside our control. We must ensure that our response is proportionate and that we focus our efforts on doing all we can to alleviate local pressures affecting the efficiency of the industry in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire.

We must also remember that, whilst oil and gas is incredibly important to our economy, it is not our only industry. Our area is diverse and I hope that the summit also considers the incredibly important contribution made by other industry sectors including tourism, agriculture and fishing.

Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire Councils have done a great deal of work to identify the economic drivers that are key to releasing the full potential of the North East including the oil and gas industry. Projects like improving the transport infrastructure across and around the City will help all businesses become more efficient and effective.

I look forward to the business community and both the UK and Scottish Governments contributing to the summit and supporting us in delivering a clear and cohesive plan to provide stability during this time of uncertainty.

 Councillor Jim Gifford is the leader of Aberdeenshire Council

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