Activists occupy tree outside Edinburgh offices in support of Torry community in Aberdeen. Press statement from This is Rigged.
Ironside Farrar, Environmental Consultants with offices in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Manchester were commissioned by Energy Transition Zone Ltd (ETZ Ltd) to produce a ‘Masterplan’ for the industrial development of parts of St. Fittick’s Park, Gregness and Doonies Farm in Aberdeen. They were also tasked with obtaining Planning Permission for this development. Ironside Farrar’s plans were presented to the Aberdeen City Council Management Planning Committee yesterday morning (29th June). The Council say they will adopt the ‘Masterplan’ as Planning Guidance.
On the same day, supporters of This Is Rigged went to the Edinburgh offices of Ironside Farrar and met with Julian Farrar, Managing Director of the company, to discuss the issues and request that Ironside Farrar withdraw from further work for ETZ Ltd, and that employees boycott all further work for ETZ Ltd for the following reasons:
St Fittick’s park is the last remaining green space in Torry, which is one of the country’s most deprived communities, where residents have a life expectancy ten years lower than people living in wealthier parts of Aberdeen. Commenting on the potential loss of the park, local doctors and nurses fighting to improve the health of the Torry community, say that industrialising any part of St. Fittick’s Park will be devastating for the health of that community.
In addition to its positive contribution to human health, St. Fittick’s Park is an oasis for wildlife, including many species of migrating birds, and Gregness and Doonies Farm support this wildlife as green corridors. In a recent article in the Guardian, journalist Tom wall suggested the park’s wetland is “perhaps Aberdeen’s most unlikely beauty spot. Reeds flap and bend in blasts of salt-edged wind. Grey and blue light catch in watery beds, where ducks dip and preen. Birds shelter in a young woodland of oak, dark green pine and silvery birch trees.”
It therefore makes no sense to destroy this important habitat while Scotland is in the midst of a biodiversity crisis. Furthermore, the wetlands and forest created 10 years ago in St. Fittick’s Park are already capturing carbon, and it is increasingly recognised that ecosystems like these even regulate local climate including rainfall.
The main purposes of the proposed Energy Transition Zone will be to develop carbon capture and hydrogen technologies, both of which are considered by leading scientists to be unproven and dangerous excuses for continued oil extraction and habitat destruction.
In yesterday’s meeting, Julian Farrar was warned that being complicit in destroying the wetlands and woodland, both of which are vitally important green spaces and biodiversity sites that have taken years and a tens of thousands of community man-hours to create, would be seen as an act of immeasurable violence.
Ishbel Shand, member of the Friends of St.Fittick’s Park campaign said,
“The proposed industrial development is simply a land grab by the oil and gas industry to fill the pockets of their shareholders and directors.”
After leaving the meeting with Julian Farrar, This is Rigged activists Mike Downham and Tom Johnson decided to occupy a small tree outside the Ironside Farrar offices, and are there awaiting a response.
Mike Downham, a retired paediatrician and children’s DR said,
“There is a high incidence of asthma in children in Torry due to particulate matter air pollution from the nearby incinerator and the South Harbour industrial development. Further industrial development in this community would have a serious negative impact on the health of children in Torry.”
Following the meeting, Tom Johnson, a painter-decorator and This is rigged supporter who knows St. Fittick’s park well said,
“If Ironside Farrar were to pull out of the project at this stage, it would have a huge positive effect on the wellbeing and health of the Torry community – disempowered folk who have lost so much already. I mean, Imagine losing an entire bay – your access to the sea. And now forests they planted 10 years ago are to be ripped up and concreted over with “green” factories.”
“Julian Farrar explained to me that Ironside Farrar have reduced the amount of harm to be done in the park, but if they now come out against any destruction WHATSOEVER of these spaces, that will be a really bold statement of solidarity, and an action that shows their real concern for the environment, and people. We understand it’s difficult for a company to do something like that in current economic and political contexts, but to me Julian did seem to be uncomfortable with what’s going on with the ETZ.”