A £320 MILLION plan to expand Aberdeen harbour into Nigg Bay could be worth nearly £1 billion a year to the Scottish economy, according to a report, writes Tim Sharp.

Aberdeen Harbour Board wants to create a second harbour, featuring up to 1500 metres of deep water berths, south of its existing facilities. But research commissioned by Scottish Enterprise has warned that it requires an improved roads network to have the maximum economic impact.

Midlothian-based BiGGAR Economics calculated that if the new harbour is developed as planned, then in 20 years time it will contribute £2bn in gross value added terms to the economy each year and support around 15,510 jobs, around 30% more than its current impact.

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No development sees a reduction in oil and gas business as Norwegian ports benefit at Aberdeen harbour's expense and its contribution will be £1.1bn GVA to the Scottish economy each year, £500m less than at present, with 8350 jobs.

Failing to improve the road network around Nigg would reduce its economic impact by around £600m a year and cut the jobs total to 11,365, the report claimed.

The Scottish Government has named the Nigg Bay development as one of 14 projects it considers to be of national importance.

Aberdeen Harbour Board chief executive Colin Parker said: "Our mission is to create a harbour that is fit for purpose for future generations, and which truly reflects our customers' needs. We believe that a second harbour at Nigg Bay would fulfil both of these requirements."