a path

Planning a path out of the pandemic

Our route to recovery

An ambitious plan to bring the county out of the coronavirus pandemic in a stronger position has been unveiled by the council. 
The newly-published Northumberland Covid-19 route-map 2021 sets out the challenges the county faces from a health and business perspective, as well as detailing what services and support people can expect now and into the future. 
It goes on to outline’s the council package of public health measures along with a five-point plan for economic recovery. 

It’s anticipated that the Prime Minister will lay out the next steps nationally on February 22nd and the council’s plan will flex in response. 
The high-level economic strategy is built on five pillars covering a range of growth plans: 
  • Investing in the transition to a future economy 
This focuses on existing economic strengths which also have growth potential – clean energy and green growth; manufacturing; and life sciences and pharmaceuticals. 
There will be a focus on Energy Central in the Blyth estuary as well as plans for a major investment at Ashington’s Ashwood Business Park alongside developments at Berwick Ramparts Business Park and Fairmoor Business Park in Morpeth, which are both Enterprise Zones. 
  • Investing in our places, culture and tourism 
A key sector in Northumberland’s economy, but it’s one that has suffered due to Covid-19, which in turn means rural and coastal areas have been hit harder, alongside more deprived communities. 
It also covers the regeneration of town centres and rural growth in areas such as agri-tech and forestry. 
Proposed investments include the Northumberland Line rail passenger service between south-east Northumberland and Newcastle, a  programme at Hadrian’s Wall, a  Supercharged Rural Scale Up scheme to provide bespoke support to rural firms which are looking to grow, and a project to establish a Rural Design Centre in partnership with the National Innovation Centre for Rural Enterprise at Newcastle University. 
  • Investing in transportdigital and connectivity 
This includes key strategic transport upgrades such as the dualling of the A1, the Blyth relief road, increasing capacity at the A19 Moor Farm roundabout, and a walking and cycling investment package. 
A Freeport around the Port of Blyth would play a role in supporting a number of other ambitions, while digital infrastructure include addressing the gaps in 4G through a Borderlands programme, extending delivery of the existing Local Full Fibre programme, and working with the North of Tyne Combined Authority on 5G investment. 
  • Investing in our people, jobs, skills and livelihoods 
This includes a major ‘sectoral change programme’ planned to reach 6,000 people, focusing on transitioning to emerging green jobs. 
Maximising apprenticeships, using the devolved adult education budget to ensure provision can more than ever before reflect what businesses need, and an Education Challenge, are other goals. 
  • Investing in a green recovery 
With a pledge to half the council’s carbon footprint by 2025 and to work with central giovernment to make the county carbon-neutral by 2030, a raft of green energy projects are in the pipeline. 
These will include Low Carbon Heat Networks, the creation of a new Great Northumberland Forest where the first step will be to plant up to one million trees by 2024. There’s also commitment to  investing in renewable energy sources such as a potential hydro-electric scheme in the Tyne Valley, solar energy on commercial and residential property and off-shore wind generation. 
Council Leader Glen Sanderson said: “This has undoubtedly been a year like no other but there’s a lot going on at the national level that really means we are in a strong position to come out of this crisis. 
“We know that rural and coastal areas have been hit harder by the Covid19 pandemic due to reliance on tourism, as have more deprived communities. But there are significant opportunities here to drive growth in areas of strategic importance to the UK and support recovery and growth, particularly in clean and green energy, manufacturing and life sciences, building on our cultural and environmental strengths, renewal of our towns and investment in our places.  
“Unlike traditional council and government plans, this route-map will not be static or long-term.   
“The fast-changing nature of Covid and its impacts demands a different approach.  Instead, we will be regularly updating this plan and adapting our response to changing circumstances.   
“It’s going to be challenging, but what won’t change is our commitment to ensuring a long-lasting recovery from Covid19 from which all our communities benefit. 

Our route to recovery

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