DESNZ's Aberdeen HQ will bring 'tens rather than hundreds' of jobs to city

Scotland's first minister describes figure as "another betrayal" of the nation's north-east
Aberdeen sunset Photo: Richard Szwejkowski/Flickr

By Jim Dunton

12 Apr 2024

The Department for Energy Security and Net Zero has confirmed that the creation of its planned "second headquarters" in Aberdeen will see tens of roles relocated to the city – not the hundreds that were initially suggested.

Ministers' decision to open a DESNZ base in Aberdeen followed lobbying by the energy sector and forms part of the government's Places for Growth programme to relocate 22,000 government roles from the capital.

The move was announced in December last year alongside plans for a Department for Business and Trade second headquarters in Darlington and a Department for Science, Innovation and Technology "second central office" in Greater Manchester.

In a BBC interview at the time, newly-appointed Cabinet Office miniser John Glen said the creation of a second headquarters for DESNZ in Aberdeen would provide a three-figure boost to the department's headcount in the city.

"They obviously already have a considerable presence in Aberdeen given how central the industry is to the city," he said of DESNZ.

"But we are now going to have this second headquarters where hundreds more will come to work and live in the city."

Despite Glen's comments, no figures for the number of roles expected to be relocated to Aberdeen were published at the time. Typically, Places for Growth job relocations involve recruiting for posts based at new work locations rather than moving serving staff, although officials who want to relocate can do so.

This week DESNZ confirmed that the number of new roles expected to be created in Aberdeen over the next three years would be in the tens rather than the hundreds.

"Hosting our second headquarters in Aberdeen underlines the importance of north-east Scotland in our net-zero transition," a spokesperson for the department said.

"While we never committed to a specific number of roles in the city, the headquarters already has over 100 staff, and our ambition is to increase this by a third by March 2027.

"An Aberdeen base puts those working in the department closer to those working in the crucial oil gas and renewables industries – both the companies and the tens of thousands of their workers who play a vital role in our energy supply."

Civil Service World understands that DESNZ has committed to a target of having 135 staff in Aberdeen by March 2027.

DESNZ's main presence in Aberdeen is the Offshore Petroleum Regulator for Environment and Decommissioning, which has a total of around 120 staff. It is based at the AB1 Building in the city, although not all staff work in Aberdeen.

The North Sea Transition Authority, which is a private company that is wholly owned by DESNZ, also has its headquarters in Aberdeen.

Scotland's first minister Humza Yousaf said the confirmation of DESNZ's headcount expectations for its Aberdeen second headquarters was "another Westminster betrayal" for the north-east of Scotland.

Fergus Mutch, policy adviser for Aberdeen and Grampian Chamber of Commerce, said any watering-down of the government's ambitions for the DESNZ second headquarters in Aberdeen was "extremely disappointing".

"In the case of functions relating to energy security and net zero, it makes an abundance of sense for these to be located in the north-east of Scotland – the region that will lead the UK’s energy transition and is home to the country’s world-class energy sector and supply chain," he said.

Mutch said the chamber of commerce was keen to engage on the detail of DESNZ's plans to "ensure their original commitment is honoured".

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