NE Scotland, Orkney & Shetland

Development body Acsef to be replaced by Opportunity North East

Sir Ian Wood
Image caption Sir Ian Wood will chair Opportunity North East

The economic development agency for the north east of Scotland - Acsef - is to be scrapped, and replaced by a new body run by businessman Sir Ian Wood.

Aberdeen City and Shire Economic Future was introduced in 2008, following in the footsteps of Aberdeen City and Shire Economic Forum.

Sir Ian has pledged £25m of his family's money to Opportunity North East (ONE).

The funding is set to be matched by bodies such as Scottish Enterprise.

It is expected this £50m will be available over four sectors for the next five years.

The new agency will focus on diversifying oil and gas, tourism, food and drink and life sciences to create a "sustainable economic future" for the area.

'Major challenge'

Sir Ian - who will be chairman - said: "ONE is the private sector's response to the challenge of transforming our economy.

Image copyright Acsef

"Significant under investment in infrastructure, both physical and digital, a high cost of living and an economy dominated by oil and gas have combined to present us with a major challenge.

"The current downturn in oil and gas has cast the issues we face into even sharper relief and there are essentially two routes ahead.

"A renaissance which sees us revitalise the region's economy or a slow decline towards becoming a museum for the golden age of North Sea oil and gas."

'Evolving body'

He added: "The business community is increasingly aware of the bleak prospect that could face us if we don't get our act together now and take concerted action to secure a sustainable and balanced economy in the future.

"ONE will therefore target its actions on sector-specific projects of scale - leveraging additional resources from the public and private sectors - which will realise the greatest returns for the region in the future, in terms of economic growth and employment."

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionSir Ian Wood says he is is determined to leave a positive legacy in the city

Acsef chairman Colin Crosby said: "Aberdeen City and Shire's economic leadership board has always been an evolving body, adapting to the developing priorities and the needs of the region.

"The transition to the new board is the result of considerable discussion over a number of months and reflects an important time for our local economy as we align our priorities and aspirations to secure long term success for the area.

"Although Acsef will formally dissolve as a board, many of the current members will take up roles on the new leadership group and we know that the spirit, enthusiasm and commitment of members will continue to be made available to the new group in their future endeavours."

'Critical juncture'

Aberdeen City Council leader Jenny Laing said: "The launch of ONE comes at a critical juncture for the north east economy.

"The recent downturn in the oil and gas sector has underlined the challenges we face as a region, which will require close partnership working and collaboration between the public and private sectors, as well as our university institutions.

"We look forward to working as part of the board on the emerging economic strategy to secure the future prosperity of the region."

Aberdeen and Grampian Chamber of Commerce president Edel Harris said: "The chamber welcomes the formation of ONE, an evolution of the public-private partnership behind Acsef."

Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption Aberdeen relies heavily on the oil and gas industry

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites