Jun 232017
 

With thanks to Gemma Setter, PR Account Executive, Frasermedia.

From left to right: Pat Ramsay, Myles Edwards, Phil Anderson, and Louise Dingwall.

A North-east financial services company has helped to provide Kenyan children with opportunities for a better future through a charitable donation.

Phil Anderson Financial Services, which has offices in Ellon, Aberdeen and Caithness, recently donated £500 to the Gathimba Edwards Foundation, a charity that supports disadvantaged kids in the east African country of Kenya.

Through its sponsorship of the Charity Open at Oldmeldrum Golf Club, the firm selected the Gathimba Edwards Foundation as a beneficiary, due to the charity’s dedication towards improving the lives of almost 250 poverty-stricken Kenyan children.

To date, the Gathimba Edwards Foundation, founded by Aberdonian Myles Edwards and Kenyan international Gideon Gathimba, has built 17 homes for over 70 children and provided education opportunities, shelter, clothing and food to 243 kids across Kenya.

Phil Anderson Financial Services regularly supports numerous charities and community initiatives across the North-east. Last year, the business was recognised for its charitable efforts and was awarded with the Small Business Big Heart Award for its support of the Aberdeen Cyrenians.

Since the firm was launched in 2011, its staff has raised over £10,000 for a large number of local charities and causes, including Diabetes Scotland, Aspire and Aberdeen Cyrenians.

Phil Anderson, managing director of Phil Anderson Financial Services, said:

“After hearing about the Gathimba Edwards Foundation and all the fantastic work they’ve managed to achieve in such a short space of time, I thought it was only right to get behind this truly worthwhile cause.

“Supporting those that are less fortunate is something that both myself and my staff are all very passionate about. We are all looking forward to hearing about the charity’s next project and how the donation will help make a difference to the lives of many disadvantaged children across Kenya.”

Founder of the Gathimba Edwards Foundation, Myles Edwards, said:

“We are hugely grateful for the incredibly generous support from Phil and his team, as it is going to be life-changing for our children.

“There are a number of families who desperately need houses built for them, as they are currently living in iron sheet structures with no walls. We are able to build two-bedroom houses with furniture and electricity for under £3,000, so £500 is absolutely huge for us.

“Phil does so much for numerous charities and causes in both the North-east and abroad, so it really is a big honour that he has chosen to support our kids.”

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Jun 232017
 

With thanks to  Jonathan Russell from Aberdeen and District CND, and Maya Evans.

Aberdeen and District CND will host a public meeting on July 17 focusing on the ongoing Afghan conflict.
At the end of 2014 NATO/US forces declared ‘Mission Complete’ in Afghanistan.
Two years on, foreign forces remain within Afghanistan while the Taliban are thought to have gained control of at least 40% of the country. ISIS are now also carrying out attacks.

Today Afghan people have to contend with crushing poverty, mass drug addiction, climate crisis catastrophe and huge internal displacement.

With no faith in the Government people are turning to the grassroots for real change.

One such group are the Afghan Peace Volunteers – young non-violent peace activists who run the ‘Borderfree Peace Centre’ in Kabul; with 18 projects on the go they include: a Street Kids School, the Women’s Duvet Project, Permaculture and the non-violence dance troop and football team.

They are an inspiring group comprised of young Afghans who have known nothing but war and violence, but want to respond and rebuild peace in a creative non-violent way.

This talk will give a political overview on the ‘forgotten war’, the internal problems that people face, and the foreign. Most recently the US unleashed the largest non nuclear bomb in its arsenal on Nangarhar Province, East Afghanistan. The immediate consequences have so far seen the Taliban retaliate by slaughtering over 150 Afghan soldiers during an ambush on a military base.

Speaker Maya Evans, UK Co-ordinator of ‘Voices for Creative non-violence’, has visited Kabul 8 times over the last 6 years. She has seen first hand how the war has worsened and how the Afghan Peace Volunteers have developed and expanded. Her talks are full of funny, moving and uplifting stories, as well as up to date facts.

Hear how the Afghan Peace Volunteers cope and respond to the deepening crisis, being inspired and moved by their relentless work and daily lives.

THE AFGHANISTAN CONFLICT ‘VOICES FOR PEACE’
Meeting taking place on July 10th at 7.30pm at UNITE, 42-44 King Street. 

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Jun 232017
 

With thanks to Eoin Smith, Senior Account Executive, Tricker PR.

A donation from a global financial firm will provide access to audiobooks for people in the north east of Scotland suffering from visual, physical and learning difficulties. Aberdeen Asset Management’s Charitable Foundation has donated £1,350 to Listening Books, which
will be used to fully fund access for the charity’s users in
Aberdeen.

Offering over 7,000 titles, Listening Books provides audiobooks as downloads, mp3 CDs and via streaming services for anyone who struggles to read print due to conditions including arthritis, dyslexia or glaucoma.

Around 50,000 people across the UK use its services. In addition to supplying the most popular fiction titles, the charity also provides educational texts across a range of subject areas, ensuring pupils who experience difficulties reading can keep up with their studies.

Robert Marchant, development and office manager at Listening Books, says,

“For many of our older members with physical or visual impairments, our service not only provides a link to the wonderful world of books but is often a relief from pain, boredom and loneliness. The service helps many of our young members to realise their full academic potential and can foster a lifelong love of reading.

“We charge a subsidised membership fee to those who can afford it, but many cannot. We are very grateful to everyone at Aberdeen Asset Management for their support in fully funding free access to our service for Listening Books members in Aberdeen.”

As part of its Sound Learning initiative, Listening Books uses its in-house recording facilities to produce educational titles which are not commercially available in an audio format. The charity also commercially produces books for authors and publishers, the profits from which are funnelled straight back into its services.

Claire Drummond, head of charitable giving at Aberdeen Asset Management, says,

“Aberdeen Asset Management is committed to helping improve the lives of the people who live in the communities in which we operate. It’s easy to take for granted the simple pleasure of reading a good book, but thousands of people around the UK are unable to do so due to illness, disability or learning difficulties.

“Getting lost in a good book is a joy that no-one should be denied, and Aberdeen Asset Management is pleased to be able to support Listening Books users in Aberdeen.”

The Aberdeen Asset Management Charitable Foundation was established in 2012 to formalise and develop the Group’s charitable giving globally. The Foundation seeks partnerships with smaller charities around the world, where funds can be seen to have a meaningful and measurable impact and the firm encourages its employees to use their time and skills to support its charitable projects.

The main focus of the Foundation is around emerging markets and local communities, reflecting the desire to give back to those areas which are a key strategic focus of the business and to build on the historic pattern of giving to communities in which Aberdeen employees live and work.

For more information about Listening Books, visit www.listening-books.org.uk  

For more information about the Aberdeen Asset Management Charitable Foundation, visit www.aberdeen-asset.co.uk/aam.nsf/foundation/home

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Jun 162017
 

With thanks to Ross Anderson, Senior Account Manager, Citrus:Mix

Primary school pupils have been working to add their own splash of colour in Aberdeen by sowing seeds for a city centre wildflower meadow. Alongside representatives from Aberdeen Inspired, a class of 22 P6 pupils from Hanover Street School have planted wildflower seeds on the grassy area where Bridge Street becomes College Street.

The aim of the session was to create greater biodiversity in the area while also encouraging community involvement in city centre activities.

Last year, children from Hanover Street Nursery also planted crocuses at the St Nicholas Centre rooftop garden.

Following the seed sowing, it is hoped that the school will take over looking after the wildflower meadow as part of Aberdeen Inspired’s ‘Adopt an Area’ initiative.

The organisation has played a key role in identifying areas within the city centre which could benefit from a refresh with the hope of making them more visually attractive and appealing to use.

Adrian Watson, chief executive of Aberdeen Inspired, said:

“We were delighted to invite children from Hanover Street Primary School to help us plant a wildflower meadow beside College Street which will brighten up the space in the coming weeks.

“As well as teaching them a bit about nature, this session was important to introduce a variety of wild flowers to the area. Increasing biodiversity in the city centre is very important and we are keen to encourage more projects like this.

“We are passionate about creating a more vibrant and appealing city centre and believe efforts like this, which involve working with school children, are hugely important in achieving that.”

Aberdeen Inspired is the banner under which the Aberdeen BID (Business Improvement District) operates. It is a business-led initiative within the city centre in which levy payers within the BID zone contribute.

Proceeds are used to fund projects designed to improve the business district and drive increased footfall to the area.

More information about Aberdeen Inspired is available online at: www.aberdeeninspired.com

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Jun 082017
 

With thanks to Jonathan Russell Chair of Aberdeen and District Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and member of Aberdeen Climate Action also Duncan Hart who produced the you tube videos.

On March 25th Aberdeen Climate Action and Aberdeen and District Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament jointly sponsored a meeting on the above.

The idea of the meeting was to share ideas of the challenges faced by diversification and to kick-start change.

This is the fith of five articles being produced for Aberdeen Voice and concerns a talk on the ‘Politics of Diversification’ from  by Myshele Haywood Co-convenor of Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire Green Party and a Sociologist.

Myshele Haywood puts forward that all the major decisions about how we live are political, whether they be food, health, energy or lifestyle. The Oil and Gas collapse in the North Sea and what we do about it depends on political factors.

Local politicians may see the need to do something about carbon emissions but they are faced with the immediate needs of their constituents. There are also major players such as multi-nationals and financial institutions that have influence and they can be opposed to the Scottish Renewables lobby.

Even Adam Smith the advocate of free markets saw the need for Governments to intervene when competition was not meeting the needs of society. Political parties have been obsessed with the need for Economy’s to grow but growth, growth, growth is not sustainable and will have long term have dire consequences for our planet and the people that live on it.  

The shift of policy from Westminster has however been away from renewables and though Independence would face many of the same challenges she considers that it would open up more doors for positive change.

Below is Myshele Haywoods contribution in her own words.

The Facebook links to Aberdeen Climate Action and Aberdeen and District Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament:

https://www.facebook.com/aberdeenclimateaction/
https://www.facebook.com/Aberdeen-Campaign-for-Nuclear-Disarmament-CND-116237695080239/

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Jun 082017
 

With thanks to Jessica Murphy, Account Manager, Jasmine Ltd.

It is in the heart of the city and as one of the busiest ports in Britain, has more than 6,500 vessel arrivals each year and handles around four million tonnes of cargo.

As the centre of activity for the offshore oil and gas industry’s marine support operations in North-west Europe, Aberdeen Harbour is a crucial thoroughfare.

Ensuring the port is operating according to the marine safety management system is a regulatory requirement, and a job that is undertaken every three years by Keith Falconer of Seacroft Marine Consultants (pictured).

A marine specialist with the company, which is based at The Roundhouse, Keith also acts as the Designated Person for the Aberdeen Harbour Board.

He is tasked with providing independent assurance to Aberdeen Harbour Board that their Marine Safety Management System is fit for purpose and that it complies with the requirements of the Port Marine Safety code.

He said:

“Every three years the Duty Holder, in this case the Board of Aberdeen Harbour, is required to inform the UK Government via the Maritime and Coastguard Agency that they are compliant with the Port Marine Safety Code.

“The Port Marine Safety Code is in many ways similar to the Highway Code, it may not be law in itself, however breaching it is not advisable.”

The Code is broken down into four main sections covering everything safety related to the operation of a port, and the process undertaken by Keith to ensure compliance is a continual one carried out over the course of a year.

With more than thirty-seven years at sea, the majority of which was spent in the offshore industry, Keith’s experience is invaluable in this role, which he has held since 2012.

Keith added:

“This position is a privilege to hold and one that I enjoy tremendously. Aberdeen is a fantastic port to operate in and plays a vital role in the commercial success of the city.

“Being able to utilise my skills in the industry in this way is great and the perfect fit with my work at Seacroft.”

Launched in 1995 by Captain Roderick MacSween, Seacroft has been owned and operated by the founder’s daughter Jennifer Fraser and technical director Michael Cowlam since 2004.

With a team of 14 staff and more than 70 consultants, the company has built its reputation in the marine assurance and consultancy sphere.

Seacroft Marine Consultants’ expertise includes marine assurance packages, OVID and CMID inspections, marine warranty work, rig move services, International Safety Management audits, safety audits and inspections, incident investigation and dynamic positioning assurance as well as simulator training in ship handling and bridge team management and specialist recovery and rescue assurance services.

For further information on the full range of Seacroft Marine Consultants services please visit www.seacroftmarine.com.

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Jun 022017
 

With thanks to Veronica Tudhope organiser with Scottish CND and Jonathan Russell Chair of Aberdeen and District Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and member of Aberdeen Climate Action also Duncan Hart who produced the you tube videos.

On March 25th Aberdeen Climate Action and Aberdeen and District Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament jointly sponsored a meeting on the above.

The idea of the meeting was to share ideas of the challenges faced by diversification and to kick-start change.

This is the fourth of five articles being produced for Aberdeen Voice and concerns a talk on Diversification from Nuclear Weapons by Veronica Tudhope Organiser with Scottish Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament who has written the below as an introduction to her talk:

“Everybody was covered with blood and burned and blackened and swollen, and skin and flesh were hanging from their bones. Parts of their bodies were missing. Some were carrying their own eyeballs.”

The words of Satsuko Thurlow, a Japanese Hibakusha (A-bomb survivor) provide the context for the argument that we need Trident for jobs. We cannot set aside the moral issue to just talk about jobs.

Jackie Baillie’s famous claim that,’’1,000 jobs could be at risk’ without Trident is both morally bankrupt and wrong. In fact, 520 civilian jobs would be lost. The correct context for this is the regular loss of jobs in longstanding Scottish industries such as 7-900 jobs lost when Johnny Walker closed in Kilmarnock, repeated all over the country and widely disregarded. In fact Trident replacement is known to suck jobs away from other parts of the defence sector.

In a spirit of internationalism trade unions, can be expected to be against preparing to bomb workers in other countries but that’s clearly easier for unions without members in the defence sector. In fact, most, apart from the GMB have a clear anti-nuclear stance. The STUC and SCND have called for a Scottish Defence Diversification Agency, “whose main focus will be planning and resourcing the diversification of jobs away from defence projects such as Trident, and promoting the greening or the Scottish economy”

Imminent negotiations at the UN in New York which are expected to result in a new treaty prohibiting nuclear weapons on the 7th July 2017. It will prohibit nuclear weapons, and make using, possessing and developing nuclear weapons illegal under international law.

This can be expected to lead, eventually to Trident renewal cancellation, and an end to the erroneous justification of this deadly, inefficient job creation scheme.

The you tube clip below is Veronica Tudhope’s talk at the public meeting.

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Jun 022017
 

 By Red Fin Hall.

Well that’s another season over, and what a season it was. Stretching back to 26th June last year when Aberdeen travelled to Brechin for a friendly, ahead of first competitive game in the Europa Cup at home to Fola Esch of Luxembourg, ending last Saturday with the epic and exciting Scottish Cup final against Celtic.

Nobody expected The Dons to get as close to being victorious in that final as they did.

This team, started by Craig Brown and moulded by Derek McInnes, has finally come to a crossroads, with Ash Taylor, Ryan Jack and Nial Mcginn, three first team regulars all looking for new clubs, and Peter Pawlett already signed for M.K.Dons. Rumours abound on social media about the future of Jonny Hayes and Derek McInnes, with Celtic and Sunderland seemingly interested in being their next employers.

It wouldn’t take much for these rumours to be squashed with an official statement from the club.

This has been our most successful season without winning anything since Willie Miller was manager, but this time the future looks rosier, with the prospective of further finals and perhaps progressing past the qualifying rounds of the Europa League a distinct possibility.

The main stream media though are having none of it, doing their usual speculating and writing us off because “The Rangers” will be busy in the transfer market and Hibs will be back in the SPFL.

Also, the fact that we have lost so many players and only, so far, having signed Greg Tansey, means we will be weaker. But The Rangers will be in a bigger transition period than the Dons, if stories are to believed, with more than half their team being kicked out, or should I say, released. Their manager has already stated that he wants to bring in players he knows; and if this is true, then their is a greater chance they will be Portuguese with no knowledge of the Scottish game.

Aberdeen have been pretty consistent all season long with only the occasional lapse of form, none more so than the League Cup final against Celtic where the players went into the match on a great run of nine wins out of ten, the only loss being to Celtic.

Bad luck played it’s part too, especially the away match to League survivors, Hamilton, in February of this year. Aberdeen had well over 20 corners, but couldn’t put the ball into the home team’s net and cancal out an 8th minute goal by Mikey Devlin. The Hamilton captain is a player that, apparently, McInnes is keen on.

Although Aberdeen had little chance of catching up with the champions, they have been in scintillating form. It was widely expected that the gap between the Dons and The Rangers, who finished in third place, would have been much closer.

However, it could have been wider had it not been for a few silly draws and especially those crazy 10 minute spells in our last three home games. Firstly, against The Rangers, we conceded 3 goals in that period despite being the dominant team throughout the match. The following home game, and the first after the split, saw us go to sleep for a few minutes, allowing St Johnstone to put two past us.

Thirteen days later visitors, Celtic were 3 goals up in the first 11 minutes. However, Jonny Hayes’ 12th minute goal was a vital turning point. The players seemed to finally realise how good they were, and made the Celtic defence work harder than they had domestically all season, pushing them all the way. Away romps and consecutive victories against the other two Glasgow clubs, saw the team go into the final in fine fettle and full of confidence.

Well, we all know what happened there, so no further analysis is needed other than, perhaps, the manager’s choice of substitutes.

In my opinion, the decisions to bring on Rooney (our top scorer, but a bit one dimensional at times) and replacing McGinn (a player that rarely plays his best in the big games, but still gives us width) with O’Connor, a midfielder, instead of Scott Wright (who scored a hat trick at Partick Thistle, and a natural keen and pacey replacement for the Northern Irishman) remain questionable.

It is pleasing that the supporters are still buzzing and confident and fully behind the team, and anxious for July to come around.

All in all, it has been a satisfactory season, and with the first game in the Europa League not taking place until July, this will be the first time since 2015 that the team have had a month without playing a game.

Unless a friendly is arranged in June that is.

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May 252017
 

With thanks to Jonathan Russell, Chair of Aberdeen and District Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and member of Aberdeen Climate Action and Duncan Hart  who produced the youtube videos.

On March 25th Aberdeen Climate Action and Aberdeen And District CND jointly sponsored a meeting on the above.

The idea of the meeting was to share ideas of the challenges faced by diversification and to kick-start change. 

This is the third of five articles being produced for Aberdeen Voice and concerns a talk on Community Renewables by Jelte Harnmeajer who works for the Hutton Institute and also runs his own consultancy in Community Renewables.

Jelte’s talk was entitled ‘Resilience through renewables’ and he gives examples of where local communities by running their own energy concerns can greatly benefit their local communities. In Denmark 86% of renewable projects are owned by local communities yet in the UK it is only 4%.

However, it is now the fastest growing means of developing renewables and has huge potential in the Aberdeen and surrounding areas if we start getting our act together.

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May 252017
 

By Ian Baird.

Every time a report is written about the Harbour Board’s expansion plans into the Bay of Nigg, there is invariably a reference to a Scottish Enterprise report which justified the project in economic terms, along the lines of, ‘An independent study, commissioned by Scottish Enterprise, estimates that the development will generate an additional £1 billion per annum to the economy by 2035 and will create an additional 7,000 equivalent jobs.’
But that Report was written in December 2013, three and a half years ago and therefore pre-dating the current prolonged oil downturn.

Before finally committing to the project in December when a contract was agreed with Dragados, surely in the light of what is acknowledged to be a significantly changed trading environment, the assumptions and projections made in the Biggar Report should have been reviewed?

Had this been done with any vigour, it is difficult not to come to the conclusion that the business case for £350+ million development no longer stands up to scrutiny and proceeding with the development on that basis cannot be justified.

Let’s look at some aspects of the Report from the perspective of 2017.

1) Harbour Capacity: One of the most compelling arguments emanating from the Harbour Board as justification for the expansion was that the harbour was working at or near full capacity. The argument was echoed in the Report which stated:

“It is clear additional capacity is required to retain activity in the oil and gas sector in Scotland.  If this capacity is not developed, then there is a risk that new and existing demand will be lost to Norway. Capacity constraints at the Harbour are also likely to hinder existing and potential users from developing new market opportunities in areas such as renewable energy, decommissioning, passenger ferries and cruise liners.”

As the construction of the expansion begins, is the existing harbour still running at or near full capacity? The Report noted that arrivals to the port in 2012 numbered in excess of 8,100. Based on the Board’s statements we have to assume this figure is close to maximum capacity. By 2014 arrivals were very similar at 7,937, but in 2015 they dropped to 7,428 and then precipitously to 6,462 in 2016 (unpublished).

That’s more than a 20% drop in traffic activity from the 2012 high to 2016. In short, the harbour is no longer working at or near to full capacity. Of course, had the arrivals levelled off at around the 8,000 mark, it could be legitimately argued that capacity issues were inhibiting expansion but with a 20% drop in activity it is clear that this is quite simply a downturn in business.

To update, the first 4 months of 2017 are no better than the equivalent period last year; and so just as the heavy plant moves in to the Bay, annual arrivals are around 1600 fewer per year than when ‘at or near maximum capacity’.

When challenged about declining arrivals at the 2016 AGM, Chief Executive Colin Parker argued lost business because of larger vessels being unable to enter the harbour were the main cause of the decline. This seems a curious statement given that vessels as large as 20,000 tonnes have used the harbour and yet the average gross tonnage is only about 4,000 tonnes. Two of the largest ships using the harbour are the passenger ferries plying to the Orkney and Shetland Isles. They each have a gross tonnage of 11, 720.

How many arrivals were there of vessels with a gross tonnage of over 10,000 tonnes, other than the ferries, using the port in a year? In 2015, only 21 out of 7,428, or .002%; in 2016, ever fewer at 11. Apart from the ferries, the upper 50% of the tonnage capacity range (10,000 to 20,000 tonnes) is virtually unused.

Where is the evidence that lack of size capacity is inhibiting business?

Fig. 1: The Harbour Board claims the existing harbour is too small for larger vessels. This graph shows that, apart from passenger and freight ferries running to the Northern Isles, the upper end of the tonnage capacity range from 7000 tonnes upward is barely utilised by oil-related, cargo or other vessels.

2) The new market opportunities identified in the Reportrenewable energy, decommissioning, passenger ferries and cruise liners – are central in the projections of increasing traffic to the expanded facility. How well does potential success in these markets stand up to scrutiny from today’s perspective? Let us look at each in turn:

Renewable Energy: Despite initial enthusiasm for chasing business in this market, the Harbour Board has been very quiet about prospects in this sector since the Report’s publication.

There has probably been a belated recognition that weaknesses in the local infrastructure (inadequate roads network for heavy and wide loads, lack of fabrication facilities) and being close to neither centres of turbine and blade manufacture nor to the offshore areas identified as potential for offshore wind arrays, means that there are no specific advantages, and several disadvantages, for suppliers of renewable energy components considering using Aberdeen as a transport base.

Biggar suggests a need for creating industry clusters around key infrastructure investment locations, and that one such cluster should incorporate the supply chain for offshore renewables by developing the land beside Nigg Bay as a marine renewable cluster in Aberdeen City and Shire.

Fine words, but despite the fact that construction of the harbour expansion is under way, there seems little action towards this suggested initiative and there seems inadequate land available to develop a suitably well-equipped cluster as proposed.

Decommissioning: Although the total decommissioning market is huge, Aberdeen’s potential to handle significant elements of it will again be limited by onshore infrastructural weaknesses and by the lack of deep-water berthing. Since the Report was published, many other ports in Scotland, North-east England and Norway have signalled their determination to secure a share of the decommissioning market.

Many, such as Dundee, Cromarty, Kirkwall and Scapa Flow are already well ahead in extending infrastructure and capacity. In what will be a highly competitive scramble for work, it is difficult to see Aberdeen, coming late into the game with improved facilities in 2020, attracting any more than relatively minor contracts.

Ferries: Apart from its inclusion in the Report as one of the potential markets for the expanded port, no evidence or research is offered to substantiate the sector as a potential market. The Northern Isles are the only destinations with a regular ferry service to Aberdeen. The existing ferries are large and, although running near to full capacity at peak holiday periods, for much of the year they are running well below.

At current passenger and freight usage levels, larger ferries plying those routes would not be cost-effective. NorthLink have not identified any need, nor expressed any interest, in introducing larger ferries to Kirkwall and Lerwick.

Cruise Ships: The Report predicts that up to 40 cruise ships could be attracted to the new harbour each year but there are quite a number of qualifications to that figure:

“If a new harbour is built and [if] improvements are made to surrounding roads infrastructure then this may make the harbour a more attractive destination for visiting ships. For example road improvements may make it easier for coaches to access to the quayside, which would make it easier for cruise companies to organise excursions for passengers. The additional space may even make it possible to create dedicated visitor reception facilities. [My emphasis]”

The projection of 40 cruise ships per annum is therefore very speculative. While it is true that the average size of cruise ships is rising, ruling out many of them from the opportunity of docking in the existing harbour, it does not follow that a sufficiently large harbour will attract those larger ships. A bigger swimming pool doesn’t necessarily mean more (or larger) swimmers, perhaps just more space per swimmer.

If we compare the new harbour with, for example, Shetland’s port at Lerwick, which is projected to attract 80 cruise ships in 2018, there must be some doubt about its attractiveness as a destination, requiring as it will a bus journey with views (and possibly smells) of a sewage works, possibly an incinerator, Altens industrial estate and a complex onward route to get to either Aberdeen city centre or to Deeside.

In fact, all of the Report’s projections of future economic gains are qualified by the recognition that for their predictions to be realised it would be necessary ‘to upgrade the roads infrastructure in the surrounding area’.

We are now embarking on a £350 million development, not only in the absence of any such planned upgrade, but with the economics of the North Sea oil industry considerably changed for the worse, and with technological changes and innovations which lessen Aberdeen’s ability to attract certain kinds of business (for example the commissioning of the Pioneering Spirit vessel which can lift and transport complete platform topsides of up to 48,000 tonnes to a limited number of deep-water berths).

There is no doubt that on the completion of the new harbour, some additional types and sizes of vessels will visit the port.

The question is: will they do so in sufficient numbers and frequency to justify a £360 million investment and the permanent loss of a valuable amenity to the local community?

To fulfil the expectations of the Biggar Report, harbour activity not only has to regain the current 20% loss of traffic but has to utilise to near capacity the additional 25% berthing the expansion will enable. That’s 45% above current activity.

Given that the mainstay of the harbour is oil-related business and that it is not contested that it is an industry in decline, there must be a huge question mark over the prediction that in Year 20 of the Report’s projections the net economic impact of Aberdeen Harbour in the City and Shire will be 12,350 jobs and £1.8 billion GVA (Gross Value Added).

The questions are these therefore. What re-evaluation of the Biggar Report was undertaken prior to the final decision to proceed with the expansion into the Bay of Nigg? Is anyone from the Harbour Board, Biggar Economics or Scottish Enterprise prepared to stand by the projections in the 2013 Report? If not, on what basis is the project proceeding?

Sources: Economic impact of Aberdeen Harbour Nigg Bay Development – A final report to Scottish Enterprise, Biggar Economics, December 2013

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