The First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon MSP, on Friday announced the creation of a £62m Energy Transition Fund by the Scottish Government to kick-start the post-Covid-19 recovery in Scotland that will hugely benefit the North East.
The announcement follows calls by Gillian Martin, SNP MSP for Aberdeenshire East, for the Scottish Government to back the region, and its drive to secure a sustainable future, after BP announced 10,000 redundancies worldwide.
Ms Martin wrote to Fiona Hyslop MSP – Cabinet Secretary for Economy, Fair Work and Culture – after a report from KPMG forecast Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire would be the areas of Scotland worst hit by the combination of a low oil price and the covid-19 pandemic.
Ms Martin called on the Scottish Government to back viable businesses in the area, and to support the growth and development of sustainable businesses.
The funding will be part of the Scottish Government’s Green Growth Recovery strategy, and help power Scotland towards its goal of net zero carbon emissions.
Over the next 5 years the Fund will support key energy projects which will help Scotland move towards net zero. Two projects receiving funding will be the Global Underwater Hub and the Energy Transition Zone, both located in Aberdeen. Also under consideration will be a Hydrogen Hub.
Ms Hyslop added that it is hoped the Energy Transition Fund will attract hundreds of millions of pounds of private investment in in the energy sector in Scotland.
Ms Martin, the MSP for Aberdeenshire East, also called for the reintroduction of the Transition Training Fund – to support workers in the oil and gas sector.
The Scottish Government created the Transition Training Fund after the previous downturn in 2016. The scheme backed workers from the oil and gas sector seeking to retrain for employment in other fields. The £12m fund helped over 4,000 people retrain until it closed in 2019.
Gillian Martin, MSP for Aberdeenshire East said
I am delighted that the Scottish Government has acted to quickly to provide these vital funds to support low carbon innovation and the North East’s future.
I, along with my North East SNP colleagues, am forever pressing my ministerial colleagues about the importance of the North East to the nation’s economy and low carbon future. The proportion of the £62m coming to the North East shows the Scottish Government is listening, and values the highly skilled workers that will be key to a transition to a low carbon future for the whole of Scotland.
It is especially pleasing to see a potential boost for hydrogen technology and carbon capture storage. These emerging technologies will be vital in securing a sustainable future for the people of Aberdeenshire, and our drive to net zero.
I am hopeful funding will be extended to Carbon Capture projects, and hydrogen innovation. There is further action the UK government needs to take to ensure the energy market supports the production of renewables and is like to see them put more money into this endeavour. Meantime I will continue to lobby Scottish ministerial colleagues for the resumption of the Transition Training Fund or a similar scheme.