What does the City Deal mean for Aberdeen?
An extra £504m of funding was promised to the north east of Scotland in January, as part of a 10 year plan to improve infrastructure in the region and attract more jobs.
The money comes from two separate deals: the £200m City Deal, which will see both the UK and Scottish governments jointly invest in the area, and £254m of funding promised by the Scottish government for key infrastructure projects in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire.
The idea for Aberdeen’s City Deal was discussed in the March 2015 budget, with the aim to fund major infrastructure projects and drive innovation.
This is the second City Deal in Scotland – the first was for Glasgow in 2014 – and will include a boost for innovation and diversification in the oil and gas industry.
According to plans, the City Deal will address a number of proposals from the region including a new energy innovation centre, supporting the industry to exploit remaining North Sea reserves, as well towards the expansion of Aberdeen harbour, enabling the city to compete for decommissioning work.
Diversifying the biopharmaceutical and agri-food industries, diversifying the area’s economy and creating new jobs and export opportunities are also part of the plans for spending within the City Deal, as well as commitments to improve digital connectivity across the area.
Signing the deal, Scottish Secretary David Mundell said the agreement would also help to kick start "hundreds of millions" of additional funds to the region from the private sector.
Meanwhile, Scottish government's infrastructure secretary Keith Brown said the deal marked "something of a red letter day" for the north east, and predicted the new oil and gas innovation centre would help to "anchor the region in terms of global research and development".
Despite the predictably enthusiastic spin given to these announcements by the donors, this should, indeed, be very good news for our area. I think most folk round here would agree that spending on necessary infrastructure has been conspicuous more by its absence than anything else, for many years. If the money is wisely spent we should see the benefit not only in improved infrastructure but also in increased investment by private capital. This is a medium term investment and will, hopefully, cushion the effects of the changes in the oil and gas industry in the coming years. This is an opportunity to be wisely used.