This week Northumberland County Council’s cabinet took to the water with the Port of Blyth to view progress on projects up and down the river that will fundamentally change the future of Blyth and south east Northumberland.
The visit started at the “port training services“ building which will soon seek planning permission to expand into a major STEM hub for the county and wider region with support from the Council, North of Tyne Combined Authority and the Government’s “Blyth Town Deal”. The facility once complete will be a key part of upskilling the local workforce to take advantage of employment opportunities flooding into the county.
Moving up river the cabinet saw the new Bates Terminal starting to take shape as part of a multi-million pound redevelopment funded by the Port of Blyth with funds also coming from the Government backed North East Local Enterprise Partnership. The development is key to providing additional space to accommodate new investment and industry moving to Blyth and is seeking to be an exemplar of low carbon construction.
Further up the river still the cabinet was shown the dredging taking place at Advance Northumberland’s “Northumberland Enterprise Park” (NEP) site to create a new dock facility, which has enabled Advance Northumberland to attract cable manufacturers JDR cables and their plans for a new £140m cable factory to the Blyth Estuary. The factory which has been supported by funds from the UK Government will initially employ about 170 staff rising later to over 400 employees as the factory expands.
The group also viewed the area linking the NEP site to the ports existing “Battleship Wharf” which is subject of a substantial investment by the Port, the North of Tyne CA and the Government’s “getting building fund”. The work, which will soon start, is key to linking up the two areas making a more compelling offer in terms of dock accessibility to further investors in the wider NEP landholding.
The visit then moved on to a tour around south harbour, passing “commissioner quay” and new homes being built by Advance Northumberland with support from the North of Tyne and the County Council. South Harbour houses so many of the businesses that form the unique offshore energy cluster of businesses that make Blyth such a compelling place for companies to invest as well as many pleasure craft and much of the Blyth Fishing fleet.
The final part of the port visit as the cabinet landed back onshore was to the Blyth Tall Ship charity where those present talked to members of the charity’s team about the unique work they do to train and up-skill local residents and viewed the charities latest vessel under construction.
Not done for the day the team moved on to tour the BritishVolt site on the north bank of the Blyth Estuary where they were able to see the enabling works getting started for the £2.6bn project that will create up to 8000 jobs onsite and in the wider supply chain. They also visited the €1.6bn North Sea Link connecting Northumberland and Norway which enabled the flow in both directions of renewable energy in sufficient amounts to power a city the size of Oslo or the whole of the North of Tyne Combined Authority.
Speaking about the visit, County Council Leader Glen Sanderson said, “Today’s visit has emphasised to the Cabinet just how significant the work is that is being done by our Council and its partners. Our tour covered projects involving over £3 billion of inward investment, which will create up to 10,000 jobs and add millions of pounds annually to our local economy.”
“These projects are putting Northumberland at the very heart of the green industrial revolution. I am so proud of these and our other huge projects like our multi-million pound scheme to bring back passenger rail service to south east Northumberland; projects being delivered as part of the Blyth Town Deal; Borderlands growth deal or the huge list of private investment coming into the county. Northumberland is undoubtedly one of the most exciting places anywhere in the country and is red hot for investment and new jobs and opportunities.”
Local county councillor Daniel Carr said, “As we know, Blyth has so much potential, and I am very pleased to see the council’s cabinet giving their full support to our town. Blyth is fast becoming the powerhouse of Northumberland.”