North of Tyne politicians will fund a multi-million pound package to ensure that the region’s recovery from the Coronavirus pandemic is as green as possible.
The North of Tyne Combined Authority (NTCA), which covers Newcastle, North Tyneside and Northumberland, will spend around one-fifth of its first five-year budget on carbon reduction and creating green jobs.
It was the first of the UK’s Mayoral Combined Authorities to declare a climate emergency.
North of Tyne Mayor Jamie Driscoll said: “Right now attention is on tackling the Coronavirus pandemic. I’m working with business groups, Local Authorities and central government to make sure people’s livelihoods are protected. We’re getting an economic recovery plan in place, ready for when the public health crisis is over.
“Businesses across all sectors will need support. A huge part of this will be our Green New Deal, helping firms and workers transition to a green economy. Supporting innovation will create secure jobs for us, our kids, and our grandkids,” he said.
NTCA will use a major part of its £20 million a year investment fund to boost offshore green energy projects including cash for building wind farms, the creation of green jobs where carbon reduction is needed most, and training for workers moving from traditional to green industries.
Community energy projects will gain support through a mooted carbon reduction fund, and money will be spent to support citizen, community, and public sector environmental schemes.
A total of £25 million will be spent over eight years on the offshore wind industry, with the potential to provide thousands of jobs in offshore and subsea projects and on infrastructure development.
This will strengthen the North of Tyne’s globally renowned offshore wind cluster, which boasts a nationally significant quayside and port infrastructure, a long-established skills base, and world class research and development and testing facilities.
£10 million will be spent over three years on a Green New Deal Fund to lead by example and stimulate innovation and business growth in the areas of energy efficiency, renewables, and low carbon transport.
It is hoped this will encourage public and private sector partnerships which will lead to the innovation needed for green jobs in reducing pollution.
This will complement a £100,000 plan this year to develop the business case for a Carbon Reduction Fund, that it is hoped will attract £10 million funding, including for community energy projects.
A £2 million Green Skills Programme will target workers wishing to retrain from traditional to ‘Green Growth’ industries, and a further £100,000 will be spent by 2023 to help communities reduce their carbon emissions.
North of Tyne Cabinet member for place and productivity and Leader of Northumberland County Council, Peter Jackson said: “Clean growth is about decarbonising the county whilst improving the local economy.
“There are economic opportunities for the North of Tyne in both the application and advancement of low and zero carbon technologies, as the need grows for renewable, clean energy generation and use.
“Furthermore, it has the potential to lower our residents’, communities’ and businesses’ energy costs.”
North of Tyne Cabinet member for business competitiveness and Leader of Newcastle City Council, Nick Forbes said: “It would be hugely symbolic if we committed ourselves totally to renewable and sustainable energy sources in the future. That would be real leadership on climate change.”
Deputy North of Tyne Mayor and Elected Mayor of North Tyneside Norma Redfearn CBE said: “Our work to tackle climate change and grow the green economy will be critical to the success of the North of Tyne region and help us deliver prosperity for our people.
“We will make the Tyne a hive of industry again,” she added.