This page is part of a series of supporting content to the Draft National Planning Framework 4 (Draft NPF4).
On this page we take a closer look at the North east of Scotland and present some of the key evidence, maps and data that were useful in developing the Draft NPF4's Spatial Strategy.
Within the Draft NPF4, the North east action area includes (in broad terms):
Parts of the east coast, for example on the Firths of Tay and Forth, could also be considered part of this area.
We have set out below a selection of data insights related to this area, using maps and other key data.
These snippets of information are intended to give some insight into what makes this area unique, outline some of the challenges facing the area, and provide some additional background to Draft NPF4's proposed approach.
CO2 emissions are relatively high in Aberdeen City, and low in the rest of the area
CO2 is the main greenhouse gas, accounting for over 80 per cent of the UK greenhouse gas emissions.
The map shows net Carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions per square kilometre for each Local Authority area. It shows that net emissions from Aberdeen City are relatively high when compared to the rest of the North East, and Scotland.
CO2 emissions per km2, in tonnes CO2
> 5 - 13.7
> 2.5 - 5
> 1 - 2.5
0 - 1
Emissions per km (tonnes CO2)
Net CO2 emissions (Kt CO2)
Emissions generated from this area arise mainly from transport, industrial and commercial activity and domestic properties, with limited offsetting from land use and forestry.
|Sector (Kt CO2)||Aberdeen City||Aberdeenshire||Moray|
|Land use, Land use change, and Forestry||8||96||-143|
There is significant variation in expected population growth at the local level, and the population as a whole is growing significantly older
The population of the area as a whole is projected to remain steady in the coming decades, although this does mask significant changes at a more local level.
For example, the past few years have seen growth in commuter settlements around Aberdeen and a relative decline in population within the city itself.
Large growth (more than 15%)
Moderate growth (5% to 15%)
Steady (less than 5% change)
Moderate decline (5% to 15%)
Large decline (more than 15%)
We also know that over the coming decades the north east of Scotland is projected to have an increasingly older population.
For example, projections show that the number of people of retirement age (aged 65+) living in Aberdeenshire could grow by around 43% by 2043.
Projected growth in population
> 40% - 59%
> 30% - 40%
> 20% - 30%
11% - 20%
|Local Authority||Projected growth||Percentage growth|
These changes will affect the demand for infrastructure and services like housing, education, transport and healthcare, and communities need to consider how they can prepare for and avoid the potential negative effects.
Quality of life is generally high in the North east, although pockets of deprivation can be found within Aberdeen City
People living in the north east of Scotland generally enjoy a good quality of life.
There are many ways to think about and measure quality of life. One method is to look to the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD), which ranks neighbourhoods in Scotland against various types of deprivation.
The map shows the percentage of neighbourhoods in each Local Authority that are classed as being among the most deprived 20% in Scotland.
The map and accompanying table show that only 3% of neighbourhoods in Moray and Aberdeenshire fall within the most deprived areas in the country.
Neighbourhoods classed as deprived areas (SIMD Quintile 1)
> 30% - 45%
> 20% - 30%
> 10% - 20%
> 5% - 10%
0% - 5%
Percentage of Neighbourhoods
Despite its relative affluence, pockets of deprivation are still found in the region, particularly within Aberdeen City.
This is illustrated by the map, which shows the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD) ranking for neighbourhoods across the city of Aberdeen.
1 (most deprived)
5 (least deprived)
The area has a diverse mixture of rural and urban areas
With urban areas including the city of Aberdeen and a network of towns including Elgin, Fraserburgh, Peterhead, Ellon, Inverurie and Stonehaven.
The significant rural areas are diverse, including more accessible countryside around the city.
Car ownership in Aberdeenshire is among the highest in the country
The difference between urban and rural parts of the north east is illustrated by the high level of car ownership in Aberdeenshire when compared to the more urban Aberdeen city.
In fact, as the map shows, car ownership in Aberdeenshire is among the highest in the country.
Cars per 1000 people
680 or more
> 580 - 680
> 500 - 580
500 or less
Cars per 1,000 people
Number of cars
House prices are high compared to wages, making it difficult to afford a home
There is high demand in the housing market and affordability and choice of homes remains a challenge, particularly within Aberdeen's commuting catchment.
The map shows the cost of the average (median) home in each Local Authority, divided by the average (median) hourly wage in that area.
This gives a rough indication of the affordability of housing and shows that in the north east, and particularly in Aberdeenshire, average house prices are high compared to wages.
Median house price divided by median gross hourly pay
> 12,700 - 16,700
> 11,500 - 12,700
> 10,000 - 11,500
> 7,500 - 10,000
7,000 - 7,500
The table lists both the median price of houses sold in Q1 2021, and the number of houses sold per 1000 people.
Median House Price
House sales per 1000 people
The Draft NPF4 proposes that priorities for the North East action area include actively planning the transition from oil and gas to a net zero future for the north east of Scotland.
It builds on emerging regional visions produced for the Aberdeen city region as well as aligning with the ambitions in the neighbouring Moray, Tayside, Highland and Cairngorm National Park areas.
The Draft NPF4 aims to bring these visions together to set out a coherent plan that addresses the collective strengths and challenges for the area and set out strategic priorities of national significance
You can use the link below to find out more by reading the full Draft NPF4.
Last Updated: 07 Jun 2023