Green MSP Maggie Chapman claims plans to build a new energy transition zone have left community campaigners “ridden roughshod over”.
The north-east politician was joined on a site visit at the St Fittick’s Park wetlands by activists in Torry who want to see the area saved from industrial development.
The Scottish Greens back the energy scheme but propose that empty industrial units and brownfield sites in the Altens area be used instead of the 70-acre green space, which also takes in Doonies Farm.
Ms Chapman said the development will mean the community loses one of its “only green spaces”.
She has called on the Scottish Government – who have committed £26 million to the scheme – to include a condition that it should not be built on the award-winning wetlands.
‘A lot of anger’
The Green MSP said the local community has voiced its opposition to flattening the green space “at every stage”.
She added: “There’s a lot of anger around how everything has happened in the last few months.
“It seems a few vested interests have got their own way and have ridden roughshod over the wishes of locals and the democratic process of genuine community engagement.”
Ian Baird, member of the Friends of St Fitticks Park campaign group, said the move has come as a “great shock” to locals.
He added: “We understand the concept of the energy transition.
“But we believe that while we support these aims, this is not the place to do it.
“This is a residential area. We’ve already got an incinerator being built, we’ve got the sewage works, we did have the Bay of Nigg and now we’ve lost that to the new harbour, and to lose this as well it seems to add insult to injury.
“We feel as though we’re a sacrifical sink here for anything that’s not suitable for the West End (of Aberdeen). ”
‘Torry has had to take on a lot’
Wendy Porter, from Aberdeen, who attended the campaign event on Monday, has enjoyed visiting the park over the last few years.
She said: “I know what an important place this is for people in Torry.
“Removing this park leaves you with a really big distance to travel to go and get another green space.
“I think Torry has had to take on a lot and had a lot taken away from it.”
St Fitticks Park and Doonies Farm have been highlighted as an opportunity site for the energy transition zone within Aberdeen City Council’s new local development plan, which was approved unanimously by councillors in June.
Should any of the sites come forward for development, they will be subject to a full planning application including the statutory consultation and community engagement at that time.
The major development is part of long-term plans to shift the economy away from a reliance on oil and gas.
The site is expected to support around 2,500 “green” jobs by 2030, along with another 10,000 related jobs.
Maggie McGinlay, CEO of ETZ Ltd, the company behind the energy transition zone, said the project “will deliver sustainable jobs and growth for the region as well as contribute significantly to the net zero ambition”.
She added that having the development located in close proximity to the new Aberdeen South Harbour is “crucial in terms of attracting potential investors”.
Ms McGinlay continued: “We welcome that Aberdeen City councillors have backed the proposed local development plan and note the council has been clear that any subsequent planning application will include statutory consultation and community engagement at the appropriate time.
“We cannot pre-judge these processes but are clear that, crucial to the project’s success, is ensuring we partner with the local community and consider the importance of green civic space in the vicinity of the proposed zone, through all phases of its development.”
A spokesman for the Aberdeen City Council administration accused Ms Chapman of being “disingenuous” in suggesting there had been a lack of engagement with the public over the proposals.
He added: “To date there has been no planning application lodged in respect of this site and if one does come forward in the future it will be subject to the normal planning process and the community will be able to fully engage with that process prior to any decision being taken.
“As is often the case, the Greens seem more interested in scaremongering than working constructively with others to try and ensure a just transition for Aberdeen’s as we navigate our way through the Covid-19 pandemic and the downturn in our economy.”
A Scottish Government spokesman said it is expected the local development plan will be submitted for examination by independent reporters in the “next few weeks”.
He added: “The protection and enhancement of Scotland’s natural environment is an integral part of Scottish Government planning policy, balanced with a commitment to enabling sustainable development in the right locations.”