SCOTLAND’S second richest man has warned that Aberdeen could leave a “depleted economic legacy” to future generations once North Sea oil runs out.
Oil tycoon Sir Ian Wood has said that the city faces a “quite serious economic reverse” if it does not receive investment in alternative industries.
Wood has claimed that Aberdeen has already missed out on big public sector projects because of its oil cash.
He said that the city is in need of redevelopment like that seen on Dundee’s waterfront, Edinburgh’s trams and Glasgow’s 2014 Commonwealth Games.
Wood said: “I see Aberdeen as having the potential to become an energy hub and evolve its oil and gas era into a long-term, more stable economic prospect.“However, a significant negative in our international aspirations is the serious lack of investment in our city centre over the last 50 years.
“I don’t want to be remembered as the North Sea oil generation that enjoyed the prosperity but left a depleting economic legacy to our children and grandchildren.”
Aberdeen is amongst the top UK cities for economic output per head, generating an income of £10.5billion per year.
However, it is estimated that the oil that drives the economy will begin to run out in 20 years.
Wood said: “As the supply begins to wind down, a lot of the jobs will begin to go and it will be a challenging economic adjustment.
“The economy will go into a quite serious reverse unless we can build the bridges to enjoy some of these opportunities in the future.”
Wood is currently working on a project to transform Aberdeen’s Union Terrace into a “Covent Gardens-style meeting place”.
He has indicated that he is prepared to invest £50million in the £140million project.
Wood is appealing for private business to invest a further £20million, to make it up to £70million, with the public sector agreeing to supply the other half.
Brian Adam, the SNP MSP for Aberdeen North, said: “I share his vision that we do need to make sure that Aberdeen continues to have a vibrant future and take the steps to make it happen.
“Like Sir Ian, I remember Aberdeen dying on its feet before the oil was discovered.”
Lewis Macdonald, Labour MSP for Aberdeen Central, agreed that the city needs to plan for the future now.
He said: “He is right to say that there needs to be life after oil, and that is partly about other energy industries such as renewables.
“It is also quite right that as well as that, you need to be a city that is attractive for people to live and work in.
“When it comes to public funding, there are definitely some respects in which Aberdeen has missed out.”
A spokesman for the Scottish government said that funds have already earmarked for the Aberdeen West Peripheral Route, which will form a bypass around the city.