Today (5 July) marked the official breaking ground of the new Energy Central Learning Hub. The major new £13.6m facility is part of Energy Central Campus’ mission to lead the UK’s clean energy revolution from the North East.
The project is being delivered as part of the £90m Energising Blyth Programme to grow, renew and connect the town and is funded by the UK Government, Northumberland County Council, and North of Tyne Combined Authority (NTCA).
It is being constructed by Galliford Try. Once built, the Energy Central Learning Hub will deliver STEM education and sector-related vocational and work-based learning in high-quality specialist training facilities to connect the community to the vast opportunities available within the clean growth sector centred in Blyth.
Councillor Glen Sanderson, Leader of Northumberland County Council, Mayor of the NTCA, Jamie Driscoll, and CEO at Port of Blyth and Chair of the Energy Central Campus, Martin Lawlor, were the first people to put spades in the ground at the ceremony.
The event was attended by a range of representatives from the local authorities, industry partners and education institutions including students from Bede Academy who will be the first cohort to study T-levels within the Energy Central Learning Hub from September 2024.
It highlighted the collaborative nature of the development, bridging the gap between employers, education institutions and Northumberland residents to provide a clear pathway for local people to gain the skills needed to land a job in the clean energy sector.
Mayor Jamie Driscoll said: “What an incredible milestone. Residents of Blyth and further afield should be very proud of this development.
“It will be an epicentre of learning and will make a huge difference to the town.
“Blyth is quickly becoming a clean energy revolution leader and we expect a lot of people, businesses and educational providers, to be interested in Energy Central Learning Hub and the next phase of the build, the Energy Central Institute.”
The combination of the Port of Blyth’s sector experience and a mature on-site supply chain with Advance Northumberland’s land development project support alongside the ORE Catapult’s world leading test facilities has been instrumental in attracting new investment from clean energy related companies.
Leveraging Northumberland County Council’s strategic educational expertise, the Energy Central Learning Hub will play a key role in developing a workforce that can meet the current and future needs of the industry around the Blyth estuary and beyond to support its continued growth.
Speaking on behalf of Energy Central Campus, Martin Lawlor, CEO at Port of Blyth, said: “We are absolutely delighted that spades are now in the ground and construction can begin.
“Blyth has a proud heritage in the energy sector and is a fitting location to house a ‘clean energy’ skills, education and training facility and we can’t wait to get started on the build.
“Having Bede Academy onboard is fantastic and the first step in offering world-class training and education for Blyth residents and for the whole of Northumberland and the North of Tyne Combined Authority.”
Councillor Glen Sanderson, Leader at Northumberland County Council, said: “Today marks an incredibly exciting time for Blyth.
“The Energy Central Learning Hub will be a fantastic skills and training centre for people of all ages and abilities to learn STEM subjects and vocational courses with the help of local employers and schools.
“This will help put young people on a pathway to working in the clean energy sector or help people retrain and upskill to move into the rapidly growing industry.”
Eileen Cartie, County Councillor for Wensleydale Ward, Blyth, where the project is located said: “This is a great milestone for the project which will boost young people’s educational skills and create fantastic learning opportunities for the people of Blyth and further afield.
“It’s great to see organisations working together to bring forward the regeneration of Blyth.”
Situated at the north entrance to the South Harbour of the Port of Blyth, The Energy Central Learning Hub builds on the success of the existing industrial training cluster in the town including Port Training Services and STEM@EnergyCentral alongside facilities operated by Newcastle University, Northumberland Skills and Blyth Tall Ship.
Phase two of Energy Central Campus, The Energy Central Institute, is yet to be submitted for planning approval but the proposed project will focus on higher-level skills, research and innovation in support of clean energy sector growth.
For more information about Energy Central Campus head to: https://www.energycentraluk.co.uk/energy-central-campus.
For the most up to date information on Blyth’s multi-million pound regeneration, please search ‘Energising Blyth’.