£70m rural growth deal signed for Argyll and Bute

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A deal worth £70m to Argyll and Bute’s economy has been signed.

The Rural Growth Deal (RGD), finalised on February 11, is made up of £25m each from the Scottish and UK Governments and at least £20m from Argyll and Bute Council and partners, and is aimed at creating opportunities for people living in the region and attracting future investment.

With the signing, Argyll and Bute Council, the UK Government and Scottish Government will agree the themes for the 10 to 15-year RGD programme of investment.

Aquaculture, tourism, housing, digital connectivity and skills for a rural economy are among the sectors set for development.

Councillor Robin Currie, Leader of Argyll and Bute Council, said: ‘The Rural Growth Deal is about turning economic potential into a successful future for Argyll and Bute. This transformational investment will focus on connecting our high value business sectors with national and international business markets to attract additional skills, residents, visitors and businesses and on growing benefit from our fantastic natural assets.

‘Reaching this milestone has been a partnership effort. Thank you to everyone involved. Especially in these times of unprecedented challenge, this is an important day for Argyll and Bute.’

Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity Michael Matheson added: ‘This deal will drive and deliver projects, designed by local partners, that will help to reinvigorate the region’s economy and build strategically for its long-term growth and prosperity.

‘At a time of such economic uncertainty and challenge, the projects and investment committed through the deal will be more important than ever and will play a key role in the region’s recovery from the coronavirus pandemic. Investments through the deal will create new jobs, protect existing jobs and extend economic opportunities to communities, businesses and individuals across the region.

‘I appreciate all the hard work Argyll and Bute Council and its partners have put in to get us to this point. We will continue to work with Argyll and Bute Council over the coming months to help them develop the projects to unlock investment and drive inclusive growth across the area as swiftly as possible.’

‘These innovative and ambitious plans will unlock jobs, opportunities and sustainable growth for communities throughout the region,’ said UK Government Minister Iain Stewart.

The £70 million investment will be used to benefit:

  • Aquaculture: Develop the area as a national and international centre for excellence in innovation and research; create a marine industry training centre to support the growth of marine sectors.
  • Tourism: Develop the area as a west of Scotland ‘must visit’ location for the maritime leisure market; deliver waterfront infrastructure to support the regeneration of some of Argyll and Bute’s key coastal towns and villages.
  • Low carbon economy: Use renewable energy resources to help deliver more sustainable local energy systems on Islay.
  • Rural skills accelerator programme: Deliver 21st century infrastructure for skills, training, education and enterprise to support growth and work opportunities for rural communities.
  • Housing to attract economic growth: Provide affordable housing for key workers to support growing business sectors and help attract the people and skills the area needs.
  • Clyde engineering and innovation cluster: Develop local economic benefits from the Ministry of Defence’s Maritime Change Programme by addressing the lack of commercial accommodation for supply services.
  • West Coast Aviation, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), robotics and compliance hub: Develop Oban Airport as a leading research and development centre for UAV technologies and the UK’s first dedicated drone training centre with indoor facilities.
  • Argyll and Bute digital connectivity: Roll out superfast broadband to key areas and expand 4G and 5G coverage.

The next stage is for the council and its partners to develop outline business cases setting out project details.

Projects will be delivered across Argyll and Bute once the detailed business cases are agreed.

PICS:

Aquaculture will be one of the targets for investment. no_a08aquaculture01

An aim is to develop Argyll and Bute as a ‘must visit’ maritime leisure location. 51_a08Crinan_to_Jura01

Michael Matheson: Rural Growth Deal ‘will help to reinvigorate the region’s economy’. 06_a47A83Taskforce_Matheson02