Deal promises green energy jobs bonanza

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A DEAL that could help create more than 7,000 jobs and help hundreds of young people into skilled jobs will be announced today.

The Government has agreed to hand over significant powers to agencies in the Humber area in a package designed to make sure the area has the best possible chance to take advantage of the opportunities offered by the development of new offshore wind farms in the North Sea.

Ministers have also agreed to back a series of initiatives aimed at improving skill levels across the Humber area so people are ready to fill the jobs that offshore wind will create.

The City Deal will see decisions previously taken in Whitehall over how existing Government money is spent taken instead by councils and business on the Humber through the area’s local enterprise partnership (LEP).

An extra £10m of funding has also been secured that will unlock more than £25m in match-funding from other sources including Europe.

Projects in the plan include the creation of a centre of excellence for energy skills and a business support programme that will help local firms create 400 jobs.

Humber LEP chairman Lord Haskins said: “This is an important deal which is the first step in devolving more power to our local area.

“Through the City Deal we will gain some significant tools to support economic growth and an opportunity to show that we can do things better for ourselves.

“The influence we will gain over skills and the national pilot we will be running on youth unemployment will help us to prepare local people for work and the new jobs that will be created in our economy.”

He added: “The measures we will deliver to make developing around the Humber Estuary a smoother process will go a long way towards making our area more competitive for inward investment.”

One of the most significant elements of the deal in the longer term is likely to be an agreement with Ministers that there should be a much simpler planning regime for major developments on the Humber Estuary.

The Humber will pilot an approach which sees major investors in the area having a “single conversation” about the plan rather than having to negotiate with a wide range of Government agencies and local bodies.

Hull City Council leader Stephen Brady said: “Following on so quickly from the award of UK City of Culture 2017 to Hull, reaching this agreement with Government is very good news for Hull and the Humber.

“The Hull and Humber City Deal is driven by the need to accelerate economic development in the city and the sub region, particularly in relation to the offshore wind industry.

“I am especially delighted that there is such an emphasis in the deal on improving skills and providing our young people with support to get into work.”

It is estimated the City Deal will help to create 4,000 jobs in the offshore wind sector, with a further 3,400 in construction, as well as helping 1,100 young unemployed people into work.

East Riding Council leader Stephen Parnaby said: “The signing of the Hull and Humber City Deal is excellent news for the region and an historic moment.

“It is also a good example of how the four councils are working together with the local business community and the Humber LEP for the benefit of all our residents.

“Signing the deal will allow for the devolution of powers and funding to a local level, so that collectively we can deliver economic growth across the whole of the Humber region and fulfil its ambitions of becoming the centre of the UK’s renewable energy sector.”