Aberdeen City Council approves Regional Economic Strategy

Councillors in Aberdeen have today (Wednesday) agreed a new vision for the future of the economy of the North East of Scotland for the next 20 years.

The unanimous approval of the Regional Economic Strategy at a meeting of the Full Council happened on the same day that the document was considered by elected members in Aberdeenshire.

The Regional Economic Strategy has been developed at a challenging time for the local economy, amid a downturn in the North Sea offshore industry and a drop in the global price of oil.

There are four key strands to the strategy: Investment in Infrastructure, Innovation, Inclusive Economic Growth and Internationalisation.

It will be rooted in capitalising on the advantage from North Sea oil and gas and delivering a more balanced and resilient economy as a result of world class innovation and competitive business.

The ambition is to build upon our reputation as an international operations base for oil and gas and to become a world-leading offshore technology base.

The strategy also aims to support a broadening of our economy across other sectors – including renewables, tourism, food and drink, fisheries, agriculture, life sciences and the creative industries.

Aberdeen City Council Leader, Councillor Jenny Laing, said: "The Aberdeen region has reached a key stage in its economic history.

"Aberdeen needs to be a city region that competes on an international level with other global energy cities, not just city regions within Scotland or the UK.

"We cannot afford to be complacent and we must embrace the potential of the area and changes in the way the region functions. Alongside this, there is a clear opportunity to contribute significantly to the UK and Scottish economies by maximising the recovery of remaining oil and gas reserves.

"This strategy provides a 20-year vision for the well-being of the place and its people and could have a truly transformative effect on Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire for generations to come.

"I am very pleased that it won unanimous support in the council chamber today."

The Regional Economic Strategy outlines two scenarios facing the region.

The first is the 'Museum Scenario', under which there is a more rapid run down of the oil and gas sector and a domino effect whereby Aberdeen's international base status and global profile deteriorates.

The second scenario is 'The Renaissance', under which Aberdeen has maximised the recovery of oil and gas reserves, extending North Sea production and cementing the region's position as a world energy city.

The first area that is addressed in the strategy is the critical need for investment in infrastructure, including road, rail and air links, digital connectivity and utilities.

The second area identified is around innovation and making sure the Aberdeen City region consolidates its position as a centre of excellence in oil and gas and encourages diversification into other sectors.

The third element of the strategy focuses on Inclusive Economic Growth – developing a skilled workforce that provides opportunities for all, delivering affordable housing and improving the attractiveness of Aberdeen city centre.

The final section covers Internationalisation, which can support growth, innovation and productivity. The Aberdeen City region has a long history of exporting goods, expertise and talented people across the globe and the strategy aims to build on that proud record.

Councillors also agreed to establish a Joint Committee to oversee the implementation of the Aberdeen City Region Deal, which is one of the mechanisms by which the aims of the Regional Economic Strategy can be achieved.

The Joint Committee - with Aberdeenshire Council and Opportunity North East (ONE) – will make recommendations in respect of strategic policy plans, the prioritisation of projects, improvements in the way the City Region Deal is being implemented and the setting of budgets.

Aberdeen City Council will be represented by the Council Leader, the Convener of Finance, Policy and Resources and the Vice Convener of Finance, Policy and Resources.

Negotiations between Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire councils and the UK and Scottish governments on the Aberdeen City Region Deal proposals are ongoing.