According to our recent survey of coastal communities, 49 per cent of 18 to 24-year-olds are already planning on moving away. And jobs are cited as the main reason, with 70 per cent being more likely to stay if the economic opportunities inland were made available in their coastal hometown.
The likes of Whitby, Scarborough and Robin Hood’s Bay are rarely seen as emblems of coastal decline. Yet they too are suffering from being left behind.
Most Northern Powerhouse funding flows away from the sea. Almost all coastal regeneration money from government, meanwhile, goes towards heritage, recreational and arts projects.
Most recently, only four of the 44 projects announced in the latest round of the Coastal Revival Fund could be described as for ‘business’, and none of these were in Yorkshire.
This partly explains why the majority of young we polled in coastal communities claimed to see no evidence of new investment, or improvement in living standards since 2019, despite the Government’s ‘levelling-up’ agenda.
Preserving the beauty and tourism of Yorkshire’s coast is vital, but it must be matched with the investment that’s needed to spur high wage and high skilled jobs in these areas.
Not only for the sake of the young adults, forced to make difficult decisions about their future, but also so that we can, once and for all, rip up the script about the coast. For it’s not just a place of buckets and spades, despite what some in cities and in Whitehall may think.
It’s a place that’s long had a pioneering spirit, especially in Yorkshire. The first search engine was not produced in Silicon Valley, but was created by a Scarborian. Whitby is where Captain Cook launched his maritime career. And Scarborough has even won an award for Europe’s most enterprising town.
Today, there is an opportunity to put our coastal areas right at the heart of Britain’s green industrial revolution. So, with the Budget days away, Maritime UK is calling on the Chancellor to provide £1bn co-investment for our sector to kick-start a world leading decarbonisation programme.
All in, this would create more than 73,000 skilled maritime jobs paying £9,000 more than the national average per year. That’s thousands of new reasons for young people to stay, all in roles dedicated to safeguarding our planet’s future. These jobs would include building new shore power charging points across Yorkshire’s coast – a proven technology that can reduce emissions at ports today, and charge tomorrow’s Teslas of the seas.
The US, Norway, Sweden, Canada, Germany, Denmark, France and Italy are among those that have multiple shore power facilities, all thanks to co-investment support from their governments. But the UK does not yet have a large-scale commercial scheme in operation.
Jobs would also be created in developing the emissions free fuels, and propulsion systems, needed to steer our vessels in a green direction.
Last month, the Government provided a multi-million pound award to MJR Controls, a Yorkshire-based maritime firm, for a project that aims to use the energy of wind turbines offshore to charge vessels, just as we use electric charging points to charge cars.
This is a technology that could not only be used locally in the windfarms of Withernsea, but one that Yorkshire could export to the globe, taking its share of the global market for maritime emission reduction technologies that will reach $15bn annually by 2050.
This offers a glimpse of how local coastal communities could be transformed, and it’s just one example of what could be achieved.
This Government investment into MJR formed part of the UK’s recent £23m Clean Maritime Demonstration Competition. Despite being a limited, year-long springboard to fund studies and trials, it was massively oversubscribed, with bids worth 225 per cent of the available budget.
The potential in significantly scaling these investments up, therefore, is plain to see.
That is why industry and communities, from the Tees to the Humber, will be hoping that the coast is not forgotten in this week’s Budget.
Sarah Kenny is the chair of Maritime UK.
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