BrewDog hits out at '˜deluded' council in land sale row

A leading Scottish brewery has branded Aberdeenshire Council '˜deluded' in a row over the sale of land.

BrewDog co-founders James Watt and Martin Dickie. Picture: Contributed

BrewDog, a craft beer producer based in Ellon which boasts a global profile, has plans to open a hotel, restaurant and conference facility adjacent to its existing production centre in the north east.

But the company claims the project has stalled as the local authority has refused to sell a parcel of land “at fair market rate”.

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Aberdeenshire Council said it was “disappointed” BrewDog had sought to break confidentiality during what it regarded “as live and on-going discussions”.

In a statement posted on BrewDog’s website, it claimed the council’s decision was costing the north east of Scotland of jobs and potential tourism.

It said the land was independently valued at £5,000 per acre in May 2016 but that council officers had instead demanded £300,000 per acre.

“We have spoken with the council several times since, but they will not budge,” BrewDog said.

“We want to invest in our local area and create much needed jobs yet the council insist on making it impossible for us to do so.

“Let’s put this into context. We are currently building a brewery in Columbus, Ohio.

“The local authority there not only fast-tracked our application and planning consents, they personally ensured nothing took more than a fortnight to get approved.

“And we paid much less for 52 acres in Columbus, Ohio than our hometown council are charging us for 2.5 acres in Aberdeenshire. And both projects are in areas where job creation is needed.”

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Jim Savege, chief executive of Aberdeenshire Council, said: “We are a proactive council with a commitment to working with local businesses. We also have a responsibility to ensure best value for public money.

“There are on-going protracted negotiations with BrewDog and this announcement appears to be intended to weaken the council’s position. We’re disappointed that the company has sought to break confidentiality during what we regarded as live and on-going discussions to achieve an agreement which is fair to both parties and which protects the interests of the local taxpayer, as well as creting opportunities for residents.

“At the heart of this is issue is that the land BrewDog wants has been already earmarked for the expansion of the local cemetery. We cannot sell land vastly below market value - the figure BrewDog has been asked to meet is what the land is worth right now. Their suggested land value is more representative of agricultural value than a site which has permission for an alternative use.

“Assisting local businesses to expand is a key objective of Aberdeenshire CounciI. If Brewdog remains committed to taking forward this development, then we remain committed - as always - to do everything that reasonably can be done to help the company achieve its ambition.”

BrewDog was established in 2007 and employs more than 500 staff, as well as operating 42 bars worldwide.

Its purpose-built brewery opened in 2012 and produces around 2.2 million bottles and 400,000 cans a month.