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Scottish Government to reject pleas to block rezoning of St Fittick's Park

Campaigners have vowed to 'stop the diggers' from bulldozing vital green space despite setback

By Josh Pizzuto-Pomaco

The phrase 'Hauns affa Torry' has become a slogan of the campaign.

Photo Credit: Josh Pizzuto-Pomaco

The Scottish Government has declined to reverse controversial plans by Aberdeen City Council which would redevelop a portion of St Fittick’s Park into an industrial park, campaigners said Thursday morning.

St Fittick’s Park, Torry’s sole freely accessible green space, was ‘rewilded’ from an abandoned industrial site a decade ago.

Campaigners and residents from Torry, one of Scotland's most deprived areas, have hailed St Fittick’s as a vital source of community pride and wellbeing.

Despite numerous calls by campaigners to preserve the park, pointing to a bevy of enviromental and physical benefits, Scottish Government ministers have given the all-clear for the Council, who want to rezone the site as an ‘opportunity site,’ to go ahead with the plans.

In a statement, campaigners with the Friends of St Fittick’s Park said: ‘The decision of whether to use its planning powers to protect the park from industrial development as an Energy Transition Zone (ETZ) has been with the Scottish Government ministers since December… The decision by Local Government Minister Joe Fitzpatrick, has been postponed five times, but campaigners have learnt today that the minister will not intervene.’

Fitzpatrick was contacted for comment.

Campaigners vow to ‘stop the diggers’

Despite the setback, campaigners have vowed to resist the Council's plans, even suggesting that direct action to ‘stop the diggers’ might be necessary.

Campaigners blasted the decision as ‘green-wash,’ stating that the government had bowed to the interests of big business.

Simon McClean, a Torry Resident and campaign member, said: ‘We are already surrounded by unwelcomed industrial development. This is not a transition, this is a robbery. A robbery of our park, our greenspace and public land by the rich.’

Scott Herret, another member of the Friends, added: ‘We need an energy transition, but this needs to be a Just Transition… Torry residents are aware the ETZ is a greenwash for a public land grab led by commercial interests in the city, such as the Port of Aberdeen and Ian Wood's Opportunity North East.’

Ishbel Shand, also part of the campaign group, commented: ‘‘The business plan is a verbose bit of flim-flam, full of wishful thinking and hubris, promising huge environmental and social benefits. The estimates of jobs created are so inflated that Aberdeen would have to start importing large numbers of workers to fill them. Former Scottish Government spin doctors are bamboozling the public with PR. We are drowning in green-wash.’

ETZ Ltd had not responded to a request for comment at the time of publishing.

Politicians hit back:

Local MSP for the Scottish Green Party Maggie Chapman, a key supporter of the campaign, told The Gaudie she believed the government had ‘failed’ in their responsibility to the people of Torry.

Chapman said: ‘"I am bitterly disappointed and dismayed by the Planning Minister’s decision to not save St Fittick's Park from development... This was a test case for the Fourth National Planning Framework, or NPF4, and in my view, the Scottish Government has failed that test.

“NPF4 provides for the protection of areas on biodiversity grounds. We should also ensure community wellbeing is central to decision-making. The Scottish Government has failed to take into account the communities views and wishes, the natural value of the area, and the evidence presented by health professionals.

‘If we are serious about putting community wellbeing and the global climate and nature crises at the heart of our vision for a future Scotland, we must ensure the decisions we make today will be in the long-term interest of both people and planet.’

The Gaudie also reached out to Councillors Christian Allard, Simon Watson, Lee Fairfull, and Michael Kusznir, who represent Torry and Ferryhill Ward, for their reaction to the news.

At the time of publishing, only Councillor Watson, a member of Aberdeen Labour, had responded.

Like Chapman, he expressed disappointment with the government’s decision.

Watson commented: ‘I am deeply disappointed that the Scottish Government haven't used this chance to safeguard the vital green space of St Fitticks Park for the people of Aberdeen, and specifically Torry. A reshuffle of ministers gave the chance for a fresh look, but they have failed their first test. The campaign to save St Fitticks will go on, and to protect and enhance the biodiversity of the area. I will continue to give it my full backing.’


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