Aberdeenshire economy buzzing with activity

An artist's impression of the Thainstone extension
An artist's impression of the Thainstone extension

A range of local business developments which demonstrate the strengths of the area’s economy have been welcomed by Aberdeenshire Council, as a new economic action plan for the area is introduced to reflect a more positive economic outlook.

Named as Fishing News 2017 ‘Port of the Year’ Peterhead Port handled a record £195million worth of fish during 2017. The port is currently undergoing a £51 million investment and opened the UK’s biggest fish market in June, landing a huge sale of 5,990 boxes on opening day.

Nearby Fraserburgh Harbour, also an important fishing port, has been diversifying, recently being announced as the preferred port for the Moray Offshore Renewable scheme as a base for operation and maintenance of renewable projects being developed in the Moray Firth.

The Council worked with the harbour to support its bid and roads and transportation teams are continuing to provide logistical support as necessary to both Fraserburgh and Peterhead ports.

Global energy firm Equinor and its partner Masdar recently unveiled their Batwind project in Peterhead, for the first time making it possible to store energy produced from an offshore wind farm.

Electricity produced at the world’s first floating offshore wind farm, Hywind Scotland, located 25km off the coast of Peterhead, will be transported via cables to an onshore substation where 1 MW batteries are placed and connected to the grid. The battery capacity is the equivalent of more than 128,000 iPhones.

As the wind isn’t always blowing, energy storage technologies like batteries are expected to become increasingly important to secure grid stability as renewable energy becomes ever more significant.

And in agriculture, the council’s Garioch Area Committee recently approved planning permission for an expansion of Thainstone Mart, supporting an application designed to assist the local industry’s long term future.

Local councillors also gave approval to an application by Scotbeef for a state-of-the-art abbatoir at Thainstone, which will replace outdated facilities and create around 130 jobs.

The recent announcements come as Aberdeenshire Council’s Infrastructure Services Committee (ISC) gave its approval to a refreshed Regional Economic Strategy (RES) Action Plan.

The RES provides a shared vision and ambition for the future of north east Scotland to align commitment, lead investment and coordinate action in pursuit of its economic growth and diversification objectives.

Co-signatories are Aberdeenshire Council, Aberdeen City Council and private sector partners Opportunity North East (ONE).

The Strategy is influenced and driven by a wide collaboration in north east Scotland, including the national enterprise and skills agencies and regional economic partners.

The partners have been reviewing the Regional Economic Strategy given significant and improving economic investment and outcomes across the region.

This has resulted in the development of a new, revised and updated Regional Economic Strategy Action Plan for 2018-23.

ISC chair Peter Argyle welcomed the significant developments around the area and the signals they send out to others who may be interested in investing.

He welcomed the refreshed RES Action Plan and said: “There are strong signs of significant and improving economic investment and outcomes across the region and we all have to continue to work to secure a bright future for the north east economy.

"The new, revised and updated Regional Economic Strategy Action Plan for 2018-23 sets out how we can achieve that, but it is important to note recent developments in the area which show an increasingly positive business environment."

Leader of Aberdeenshire Council, Jim Gifford, added: “The council is working with its partners in many areas to improve our local economy and it's great to see signs that businesses are feeling more confident and we are keen to support that wherever we can.

"Our focused work in the northern towns of Peterhead, Fraserburgh, Banff and Macduff is showing real signs of progress, with lots more to come, and our local communities are showing this really is a good place to do business."