Argyll’s £70 million rural growth deal progress ‘on track’

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Argyll and Bute’s rural growth deal (RGD) continues to progress towards the green light for £70 million of economic-growth initiatives across the area, according to council chiefs.

At its recent meeting, the council’s policy and resources committee agreed to invest £150,000 in supporting the development of RGD projects and business cases to the detail required to reach the next key milestone in the RGD process – signing the full deal with the Scottish and UK governments.

Argyll and Bute’s RGD focuses on the eight key themes, based on driving inclusive economic growth:

  • Tourism/place: create a world class visitor destination and place people choose to live, work and do business
  • Low carbon economy: use the region’s marine renewable resources to help address the climate emergency and the economic challenges facing island and rural communities
  • Rural skill accelerator programme: 21st century infrastructure for skills, training, education and enterprise to support growth and work opportunities for rural communities
  • Housing to attract economic growth: deliver affordable housing of the right type and in the right place to support growing business sectors and support a growing population
  • Clyde engineering and innovation cluster: develop economic benefits, from the Ministry of Defence’s Maritime Change Programme, by addressing the lack of commercial accommodation for supply services
  • West coast unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) logistics and training 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 digital connectivity: futureproof RGD investments digitally by enhancing superfast broadband and mobile connectivity at key sites to help grow the local economy and facilitate changes in the way we live, work and do business
  • Marine aquaculture programme: develop the area as a national and international centre for excellence in innovation and research, and create a marine industry training centre to support the growth of marine sectors

The new funding, from the council’s Inward Investment Fund will be targeted at services such as design work, business case support, legal advice and survey work.

‘The rural growth deal is about turning economic potential into a successful future for Argyll and Bute,’ said Councillor Robin Currie, leader of Argyll and Bute Council.

‘The projects were developed following extensive consultation with our partners and our local communities.

‘Together, they will help connect our business sectors with national and international markets, and attract new skills, training and learning opportunities that will benefit people and grow Argyll and Bute’s economy.’

Scottish Government economy secretary Kate Forbes MSP said: ‘We have committed £25 million to the Argyll and Bute rural growth deal.

‘This will support a range of projects, including capitalising on regional strengths in marine areas to create high value jobs, developing the skills needed by current and future industries, and supporting infrastructure to underpin regional economic growth.

‘We continue to work with regional partners towards the full deal stage and the funding agreed by the council today [Thursday, February 17] will support important preparatory work on project business cases that will help move us towards that milestone.’

UK Government Minister for Scotland Iain Stewart MP said: ‘One year since the heads of terms agreement was signed, all the partners of the Argyll and Bute rural growth deal are working together to make the ambitious and exciting plans a reality as soon as possible.

‘The UK Government has committed £25 million to the deal, and our Community Renewal Fund is supporting related projects such as the Seaweed Academy and drones training hub in Oban.’