Double boost for Aberdeen Harbour as Scottish Government and independent report back expansion plans

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File No  03 - HarbourPlans by Aberdeen Harbour Board to create additional berthing facilities at Nigg Bay have received a double boost.

An independent report, which estimates the economic benefit of the development to the local and national economies to be nearly £1billion per annum, has been published in the same month that the Scottish Government, in their National Planning Process, named the Nigg Bay Development as one of only 14 projects that they consider to be of national importance to Scotland.

The independent report, Economic Impact of Aberdeen Harbour Nigg Bay Development, commissioned by Scottish Enterprise and produced by Midlothian-based BiGGAR Economics, studies the impacts of a potential second harbour being constructed within Nigg Bay.

It estimates that under a full development scenario, which includes upgrading the road infrastructure around Nigg Bay, and in particular, an improved coastal road linking through to the Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route (AWPR), would result in Aberdeen Harbour, as a whole, contributing £2billion annually, to the Scottish economy and supporting 15,000 jobs, an increase of 30% on the port’s current impact. Of this figure the port would contribute an additional £500million directly to Aberdeen City and Shire.

According to findings, failure to expand the harbour would lead to a decrease of £500million per annum to the Scottish economy by 2034, an outcome largely attributed to likely increased competition from abroad.

The findings of the report come as the potential development at Nigg Bay is shortlisted in the Scottish Government’s proposed third National Planning Framework (NPF3), with the document identifying the project as one of national significance due to its major contribution to the oil and gas industry.

Welcoming these publications, Aberdeen Harbour Board Chief Executive Colin Parker said: “We are delighted that our project is being recognised for its full worth, both independently, and by the Scottish Government.  As a Trust Port, our mission is to create a harbour that is fit for purpose for future generations, and which truly reflects our customers’ needs. We believe that a second harbour at Nigg Bay would fulfill both of these requirements. This report, and the support of the government, reinforces our belief that the development would provide significant economic rewards, not only for our customers, local communities, Aberdeen City and Shire, but for Scotland as a whole”.

Mr Parker added: “The initial studies indicate that the £320million development at Nigg Bay could create up to 1500 metres of deep-water quays. This increase in capacity is vital in order to accommodate the demands that the harbour is currently facing, whilst also positioning us to attract future traffic flows associated with the subsea and renewables sectors.”

Scottish Enterprise Energy Sector Portfolio Director Maggie McGinlay added: “Aberdeen Harbour is one of Europe’s leading marine support centres for offshore energy and makes a significant contribution to the Scottish Economy. Aberdeen Harbour links with over 40 countries across the world and plays a critical role in supporting Scotland’s oil and gas sector.

“The results of this research show that any additional capacity at the port would further support the oil and gas industry supply chain ensuring there is a long-term vibrant sector anchored in Scotland.”

In addition, the improved facilities at Nigg Bay could also generate a significant increase in cruise ship visits.

Mr Parker added: “The Harbour at present is operating at near capacity.  Over the past few years we have experienced increased demand from our customers and have developed, as far as possible, the existing infrastructure of the port. It is clear that additional capacity is required to retain this activity, and avoid losing this work to our overseas competitors, whilst also taking advantage of new opportunities in the subsea, cruise and renewable energy markets. That the development at Nigg Bay provides such benefits to the national economy only strengthens our belief in the far reaching value of the project for all concerned”.