Multiple award-winning environmental consultancy Ironside Farrar has been appointed to lead the work on a “master plan” for the Energy Transition Zone (ETZ) earmarked for Aberdeen.
It has been tasked with drawing up detailed proposals in advance of an application for planning permission “in principle”.
The ETZ project is backed by economic development partnership Opportunity North East, as well as £56 million of funding from the Scottish and UK governments.
Bids for the “master plan” contract – worth £250,000 – were evaluated on a basis of 70% quality and 30% cost.
The master planning activity is an important step in ensuring this project is as a catalyst for innovation, investment and sustainable growth.”
Neal Handforth, ETZ Ltd.
Ironside Farrar has offices in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Manchester. The company boasts a Queen’s Award for Enterprise for sustainable development, thanks to its work on Whitelee wind farm, near Glasgow.
A string of other gongs have come its way over the years, for projects including environmental improvements in Footdee, Aberdeen, and Kincardine O’Neil, on Royal Deeside.
ETZ Ltd, the not-for-profit business that was launched earlier this year to deliver the transition zone – earmarked for an area of about 173 acres on the south side of Aberdeen – aims to economically reposition the north-east by reducing its longstanding reliance on oil and gas.
The “master plan” is expected to include proposals for how the project will be taken forward and provide a “clear and consistent” framework for future investment and development.
It will cover the proposed areas of the ETZ, including the development of various existing brownfield sites in East Tullos and Altens, as well as sites closer to the harbour.
According to ETZ Ltd, Ironside Farrar will “play a key role in engaging with the local community and other stakeholders through the various stages of the master planning process”.
‘Proven track record’
ETZ Ltd’s newly appointed development and infrastructure director Neal Handforth said: “I’m delighted that Ironside Farrar will be undertaking the crucial work of master planning for the Energy Transition Zone.
“They have a proven track record of finding creative and sustainable solutions, and prioritising community participation as a key element of their project delivery.
“The Energy Transition Zone is a milestone project that will help cement Aberdeen’s position as the all-energy capital of Europe, securing a sustainable and vibrant future for the north-east and the people who live and work here.”
Mr Handforth added: “This region is one of the most attractive locations in Europe in which to develop and accelerate the commercialisation of the innovative low-carbon technologies that are needed to help Scotland and the UK meet their respective net-zero targets.
“The master planning activity is an important step in ensuring this project is as a catalyst for innovation, investment and sustainable growth.
“Critical to the project’s success is ensuring the local community is listened to throughout the process.
“The team at Ironside Farrar are fully aware of the importance we place on this, and they will play a key role in delivering what is an exciting and ambitious project for our region.”
Sustainable and inclusive locations have ‘never been more important’
Ironside Farrar managing director Julian Farrar said: “It is a privilege to be named as Energy Transition Zone partner for the delivery of this master plan.
“Building more sustainable and inclusive places has never been more important and we look forward to working with the many and varied stakeholders to develop the master plan and support our transition to net-zero.”
ETZ Ltd – led by former Scottish Enterprise director Maggie McGinlay as chief executive – has stressed it is still early days for the proposed development.
And Mr Handforth said the firm was happy to “explore with the community ideas around a number of specific projects and initiatives that would have the aim of developing local amenities”, while also paying heed to the importance of local “biodiverse areas”.
The ETZ is expected to directly support around 2,500 “green” jobs by 2030, along with another 10,000 related roles.
But members of a local campaign group, the Friends of St Fitticks Park, fear the development will threaten award-winning wetlands.
Meanwhile, ETZ Ltd has beefed up its boardroom team by appointing five unpaid non-executive directors – David Currie, Julian Brown, Alan James, Daniel Finch and Andrew McDonald.
Neil Young, land and planning director, joins Mr Handforth in recently taking up full-time paid roles.