17 May 2024

Infrastructure Services Committee May round-up

During its meeting of Thursday, May 15 2024, Aberdeenshire Council’s Infrastructure Services Committee approved the Development Plan Scheme 2024-2025, received updates on Invest Aberdeen and the Long-Term Plan for Towns programme for Peterhead and welcomed regeneration activities in four northern towns over the past seven years.

Development Plan Scheme 2024-2025

Committee discussed and approved the amended Aberdeenshire Development Plan Scheme 2024 – 2025. Members considered the changes made following public consultation and engagement with the council’s six Area Committees. Every year Aberdeenshire Council must prepare and publish a Development Plan Scheme which sets out the anticipated programme for the production of the Local Development Plan and how people can get involved in its production. This year it builds on the last Development Plan Scheme 2023 and marks progress towards the production of the plan. Members stressed the need for ongoing engagement in schools and among younger people.


Developing Excellence in our North East Communities

A report celebrating the completion of a seven-year regeneration strategy in the northern towns of Banff, Macduff, Fraserburgh and Peterhead was welcomed by committee. Councillors were advised that while the report completes this format of reporting on the Vision and Action Plans across Banff and Buchan and Buchan, it does not mean that work to
achieve outcomes stops. The success of this place-based approach as part of Aberdeenshire Council’s Regeneration Strategy has led to a Place Policy being shaped that proposes to embed the approach taken, enabling services across the council to be responsive to place-based approaches which will be submitted to Full Council for approval in due course. 

You can read more about the regeneration works here: 


North Sea Commission

There was a detailed discussion around the council’s membership of the Conference of Peripheral Maritime Regions (CPMR) and North Sea Commission (NSC). A review of the membership was recently undertaken and, while noting a number of benefits of continued participation in the organisation, it did also highlight that there is an ongoing expectation of officer support and budgetary provision for elected member travel which is not fully resourced.
Committee heard that virtual attendance at meetings of the CPMR and NSC were unlikely to be possible on a routine basis and there are currently no resources allocated to continue membership into 2025. The Conference of Peripheral Maritime Regions is an organisation which aims to strengthen the role of local and regional authorities throughout
Europe. Its members are local and regional authorities across Europe and from neighbouring countries. A number of smaller geographical commissions operate underneath the umbrella of the CPMR, including the North Sea Commission. The NSC is a cooperation platform for regions with a mission to strengthen partnerships between regional authorities which face the challenges and opportunities presented by the North Sea. Aberdeenshire Council has been a member of both organisations for a number of years. Councillors unanimously supported a motion tabled by Cllr Glen Reid that membership of the bodies should continue in 2024-25 on the understanding that a full review be carried out to develop the council’s clear objectives, identify the necessary resources for continued membership, confirm that the work of CPMR/NSC is effective and supporting the achievement of these goals and that the review is presented to ISC for determination before 2025-26 membership is due.


Invest Aberdeen update

Councillors approved the annual report and update into Invest Aberdeen and agreed to continue with Aberdeenshire Council’s participation in the partnership. Invest Aberdeen was established in 2018 through a partnership between Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire councils with the aim of attracting and supporting inward investment to the region. Some of the key activities noted in 2023–24 included:

•    Inward investment enquiries - Supported 88 enquiries in the following sectors: energy, life sciences, food and drink and technology. An example of a positive outcome is the following companies securing office/workshop space across the region: Total Marine Technology, Aberdeen Minerals, ShyP and Broadway Partners. The team continue to support large ongoing enquiries specifically around Peterhead and Port of Aberdeen/ Energy Transition Zone

•    Events – Attended, exhibited and supported various industry events across the region with upwards of 150 connections made such as Peterhead Port Authority’s ‘Embracing the Energy Transition Opportunity’; All Energy, Glasgow; Energy Voice’s ‘Invest ABZ’; Offshore Europe, Aberdeen; Floating Offshore Wind, Aberdeen; Scottish Cities Week, London, and Subsea Expo, Aberdeen

•    Inward delegations - Hosted and supported a range of inward visits including: Scottish Development International (SDI) / Department of Business and Trade (DBT)-led Asian Delegation focusing on offshore wind and hydrogen; Enterprise Singapore, Yokogawa Electric - Hydrogen Centre of Excellence; SDI Global Team, SDI USA venture capital delegation; Office for Investment (UK Government)

•    Supported the creation and delivery of the annual regional investment tracker which showcases a £16 billion investment pipeline. Led by AGCC, Invest Aberdeen was a partner alongside ONE

During discussion, members heard that confirmed inward investment saw Aberdeen ranked joint-fifth in the UK’s top five investment locations outside London in 2022 with 15 projects. 
From 2022 to 2023, £3.3billion of projects were completed. Invest Aberdeen is involved in all aspects of commercial development including retail and energy and in recent months has been in discussions with developers of a new form of affordable housing who are keen on developing their project in the north-east. While very supportive of Invest Aberdeen’s work and highlighting local areas which are thriving with new investment, councillors stressed the need for the ongoing development of critical infrastructure to complement the transformational AWPR peripheral route to maintain the region’s position as an attractive base for investors – be that through road, bridge and rail links.


Carbon Budget 2023-24

Councillors considered the estimated carbon savings from projects that the Environment and Infrastructure Services directorate undertook across the 2023/24 financial year. The bulk of the carbon savings have come from the opening of an energy from waste plant. With an average of 3,180 tonnes of waste being diverted from landfill to the energy from waste plant, an estimated saving of 1,351 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (tCO2e) has been created. The report shared that the estimated emissions saved from projects within Environment and Infrastructure Services had increased from the 1,392 tCO2e—presented on 9 March 2023—to the 1,616 tCO2e presented as a final estimate on 16 May 2024. The full impact of the annual carbon budget will be known once the annual Public Bodies Climate Change Report is completed and presented to the Sustainability Committee in November 2024.


Long-Term Plan for Towns

Councillors were given an overview of the Long Term Plan for Towns programme which will see £20m of investment in Peterhead over the next decade. Announced in the March Budget, Peterhead is joining this programme from the Department of Communities and Levelling Up and will see a dedicated Town Board agreeing a long-term vision and investment plan for the town. Under the new approach, local people will be put in charge, and given the tools to change their town’s long-term future. They will:   

•    Receive a ten-year endowment-style fund to be spent on local people’s priorities, like regenerating local high streets and town centres or securing public safety 

•    Set up a Town Board to bring together community leaders, employers and local authorities to deliver the Long-Term Plan for their town and put it to local people for consultation

The Long Term Plan for Towns funding will be spent over the next 10 years and will be managed by a board of local champions from the community including representatives from the voluntary and education sector, business, cultural, arts and sports, Aberdeenshire Council, and the local MP. The guidance states the town board should include a range of members including Community Groups, Faith Leaders, Youth representation, business, culture, arts & heritage, and public bodies. The Town Board is to be independently chaired and be formed to represent community interests, business perspectives and public organisations. The Long-Term Plan they will develop must include a 10-year vision and an initial 3-year investment plan to be refreshed every 3 years as part of the programme.


The full agenda, documents and links to the recording of the webcast can be found here: