James Newman, previously chairman of the Sheffield City Region LEP and a former Master Cutler, has taken up the position of chair of the newly-reconfigured LEP and said he believes the new geography it covers will allow it to offer greater focus to the work it does.
His appointment follows the scrapping of the old Hull and Humber LEP which covered parts of North Lincolnshire. The new LEP is entirely focused on the areas north of the Humber and East Yorkshire.
Speaking to The Yorkshire Post, Mr Newman, inset, said that the region, currently home to a number of inward investments, now had a huge opportunity to play a leading role in the Government’s drive to net zero emissions.
He said: “It is now very much Yorkshire, as opposed to straddling both Yorkshire and Lincolnshire.
“I am very hopeful that will allow it to focus and work with more closely with the rest of Yorkshire. There are significant opportunities to work across Yorkshire.”
The Humber region has recently been designated as a freeport by the Government and a number of investments into offshore wind production, rare earth, hydrogen power and carbon capture are currently underway in the area, with thousands of jobs predicted to be created both directly and indirectly.
Mr Newman said that while other parts of the country were also seeing investments on this front, the Humber’s geography meant it was one of the best suited areas to facilitate green energy.
“They don’t have the sea,” he said.
“They don’t have all the benefits that wind or even wave power can bring. So there are tremendous opportunities for the region to develop it.
“There is a lot of collaboration between many organisations in those areas. If we harness that enthusiasm and convince the Government that if they really want net zero and provide a case study of how it may happen, our new geography is the kind of place to come and try it.”
The new LEP he heads is two thirds of the size of the former Hull and Humber body but Mr Newman asserted that this will prove an asset going forward and pledged to keep collaborating with North Lincolnshire on key national products and initiatives.
“With the focus now on net zero and all the clean energy activity in whatever form, and Brexit meaning ports become much more important, the region I am hoping will gain a huge amount of confidence, and certainly the geography I represent will gain a huge amount of confidence from the investment that is coming in.”
Mr Newman said a large part of his role will lie in soliciting Government funding.
“A lot of the activity we are looking to support is high cost, capital-intensive activity,” he said. “It is not something that local businesses can support on their own.”
And he added that the rural areas would be a high priority for the LEP saying: “There are huge amounts of industrial activity but it is mainly a rural community with tourism and leisure, with coastal towns and resorts.
"We must never forget, especially coming out of Covid, that we have a task to resurrect it and bring it back to life again.”