Aberdeen City Region Deal - your weekly progress update 7th December

In the latest weekly update from the Aberdeen City Region Deal team we focus on yet more significant news for our economy – the establishment of Opportunity North East (ONE).

The new private sector-led body is focused on ensuring a sustainable economic future for the region, by broadening and strengthening the area’s economy. ONE will help with investing in and accelerating the delivery of projects through four key sector boards covering Oil & Gas; Food, Drink & Agriculture; Life Sciences and Tourism.

The economic leadership board, chaired by Sir Ian Wood and led by high-profile business figures from across the region, will also include representatives from Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire Councils, the Principals of the University of Aberdeen and Robert Gordon University, and a senior Scottish Enterprise representative.

ONE will provide support to help grow and promote its four key business sectors and bring high-impact projects to fruition in partnership with the public and private sectors. It will focus on investment and action to stimulate economic growth, safeguard jobs and create new employment opportunities over the medium to long term.

The board will also play a key role as the private sector partner for the City Region Deal, which will mean assisting Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire Councils with the negotiation process, participating in the Governance Board and encouraging the private sector to help in financing projects.

ONE’s sector-specific and outcome-focused agenda will complement, and where appropriate support, the infrastructure investment proposals within the City Region Deal, including an Oil & Gas Technology Centre, improved sea and air links, significant city centre improvements, extended leisure and recreation facilities and dramatic improvements to digital and wider physical infrastructure.

Chairman of ONE, Sir Ian Wood, said: “ONE is the private sector’s response to the challenge of transforming our economy. The business community is increasingly aware of the bleak prospect that could face us if we don’t get our act together now and take concerted action to secure a sustainable and balanced economy in the future. ONE will therefore target its actions on sector-specific projects of scale – leveraging additional resources from the public and private sectors – to maximise the offshore oil and gas opportunities for the region in the medium term and enhance the growth of key traditional industries.

“We are pleased to be playing a key role in the City Region Deal and fully aligned with the public sector in working to secure a deal which could make the difference between a renaissance which sees us revitalise the region’s economy or a slow decline towards becoming a museum for the golden age of North Sea oil and gas.”

Leader of Aberdeen City Council, Jenny Laing, said: “The launch of Opportunity North East (ONE) comes at a critical juncture for the north-east economy.

“The recent downturn in the oil and gas sector has underlined the challenges we face as a region, which will require close partnership working and collaboration between the public and private sectors, as well as our university institutions.

“We look forward to working as part of the board on the emerging economic strategy to secure the future prosperity of the region.”

Co-leader of Aberdeenshire Council, Richard Thomson, said: "The establishment of the ONE Board is an exciting development at what is a crucial time for the economy of North East Scotland.

“It brings together a group of extremely high calibre individuals from the private sector, who bring real expertise and knowledge of the main areas of economic success and opportunity which we have in the North East, giving the new body a real sense of purpose.”

Elsewhere, the case for an Aberdeen City Region deal was further strengthened during a session of the Scottish Parliament’s Economy, Energy and Tourism Committee which focused on the ‘Future Prospects for Oil and Gas in Scotland’.

Deirdre Michie and Mike Tholen from Oil & Gas UK, Andy Samuel and Sir Patrick Brown from the Oil & Gas Authority, and James Bream from the Aberdeen and Grampian Chamber of Commerce all gave evidence to the committee in the second of two evidence-gathering sessions at Holyrood.

The region’s ambassadors urged members of the committee to get behind the Aberdeen City Region Deal, the delivery of which would help anchor both the oil and gas sector and its workforce in the North-east of Scotland, as well as making the most of the energy expertise of the region.