A second bid to secure multimillion-pound funding for the Tyne offshore and subsea sector has been sent to the Government.
The Business Live is reporting that Newcastle City Council is bidding for £19.3m from the second round of the Government’s Levelling Up Fund after missing out on funding with its original bid in the first round last October. It says the funding would safeguard thousands of jobs, help to attract investment and secure the long-term future of the Tyne’s offshore and subsea sector.
Companies in the sector currently employ around 2,800 people and contribute £139m to the regional economy each year. It is hoped that a successful funding bid would help attract further inward investment and job creation as the renewables sector becomes a key growth area in the UK economy.
Coun Alex Hay, cabinet member for a resilient city at Newcastle City Council, said: “We are urging the Government to recognise the importance of the River Tyne for our local economy and the need for such investment to increase our productivity and level up with the rest of the country. The specialist industries that operate on the banks of the Tyne provide thousands of jobs for local people and there is a huge amount of potential for further growth.
“We need to be able to unlock that potential so that these riverside operations can continue to thrive here in the North East, supporting a stronger regional economy and creating more jobs and training opportunities for our communities.”
The second-round bid is supported by Newcastle East MP Nick Brown, who also backed the original bid last year.
He said: “This project complements the environmental protection work that the council, along with the Environment Agency, are already undertaking upstream. It helps safeguard the marine environment from contaminants, this in turn helps protect and develop green jobs on the north bank of the Tyne.”
If the bid to the Levelling Up Fund is successful, additional funding from the North East LEP and the North of Tyne Combined Authority, would see the total level of investment reach just over £25m. The funding would enable infrastructure works, including the development of a new facility to manage sediment build-up in the river, which could ultimately affect access to the river for larger vessels. The project would also see the renewal of a section of Walker Quays, for which LEP and North of Tyne Combined Authority funding has been secured.
The investment would create a restoration facility at Bill Point, on the northern bank of the river. A bund would be built out from the riverbank to create a reservoir that would hold the sediment that is dredged from the riverbed, containing heavy metals that are too expensive to dispose of at landfill. Without that facility, there are fears that berths on the north bank of Tyne would become unviable economically.
Last year, bids from the council to build a new leisure centre in Newcastle’s outer west and to renovate the Grainger Market won backing from the Levelling Up Fund, but the subsea project did not win favour. An application from Gateshead Council for funding towards the Sage conference centre was also turned down, but has been re-submitted.