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Consultation over Energy Transition Zone in Aberdeen criticised by local residents

The initial discussion took place Saturday 4th of December at the Torry United Free Church amidst the residents’ discontent

by Louise Henrard

Leaflet image courtesy of a resident

According to Energy Transition Zone Ltd, the conception of an Energy Transition Zone in Aberdeen aims to reposition the North East of Scotland as a global leader in energy transition technologies by delivering a purpose-built net-zero green space.

Residents were invited by environmental consultants Ironside Farrar Ltd to “share local knowledge, outline what is important and explore scenarios and options”.

One of the main concerns of the project relates to the future of the St Fitticks Community Park and Doonies Rare Breeds Farm, which were rezoned in a vote by the Aberdeen City Council in March 2020.

This rezoning effectively turned St Fitticks Community Park from a greenspace into an opportunity site amenable for industrial development, a decision which was taken with little to no consultation from local residents.

As the last green space easily accessible to the Torry Community, an opposition formed online and a local group formed to protect the park.

With 199 objections lodged regarding the proposal of rezoning of the park and Doonies Farm, Scottish Ministers have appointed a reporter to carry out an examination of the proposal as part of the Scottish Government’s Planning and Environmental Appeals Division (DPEA).

While the outcome of the examination is still unknown, Energy Transition Zone Ltd, a private company formed to realise the Energy Transition Zone concept continues to work on the project.

The company employed Iron Farrar Ltd, an environmental consultancy to consult the residents and undertake additional assessments.

The Gaudie was present at the consultation, where attendees criticised Aberdeen City Council's decision to rezone the park with no meaningful dialogue with the local community

Many were concerned about the health and environmental impact losing the park would have and were shocked at the lack of assessment before the consultation and the rezoning proposal.

However, some residents were not surprised about the situation.

Ishbel Shand, who was distributing leaflets at the entrance of the church said:

“An oil tycoon formed a private company “ETZ ltd” which employed a consultancy, Ironside Farrar, to draw up a MasterPlan for land around the South Harbour. All the agreements made in 2015 between the previous consultant, Barton Willmore for the Harbour Board, have been broken.

"This isn’t about energy transition – it’s just another land grab by robber barons. I’m ashamed to live in a city where policy is dictated by the rich and powerful, and there is no democracy”

Indeed, the community has a history of development and the park is surrounded by the new harbour expansion on the east, a railway station and incinerator to the south as well as sewage treatment facilities overhead of the park.

Julian Farrar, from Ironside Farrar, said: “The consultation was the start of the conversation with residents, a listening exercise but that ultimately choices will need to be made to find the balance between social and environmental capital […] there is a collective responsibility in achieving the nation’s decarbonisation goal”

Friends of St Fitticks Park’s mission to protect the park highlights that the energy transition will need to be a just transition. Recently, a local filmmaker, Martina Camatta, produced a short film “Net-Zero Green” exploring the different sides of the energy transition in Torry.

The next consultation round will happen in February.


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