NORTHUMBERLAND is responding vigorously to well documented problems in mining and agriculture. The county, traditionally dependent on employment in these sectors, is mining the potential of other key sectors. Developing these sectors is considered vital to broaden and reshape its economic base.
Renewables, pharmaceuticals and healthcare, tourism, and land- based industries already have an excellent footing in the county and a lot of work is going on to build upon their strengths.
The progress of the renewables sector in particular is hailed as a major success. Blyth’s New and Renewable Energy Centre (NAREC) is blazing a trail countrywide, setting standards for research and development of renewable energy.
To develop a larger skills base, Northumberland County Council and Northumberland College are to launch an accredited wind skills course. This course is the first outside mainland Europe.
The council is also working with the University of Newcastle to develop a centre of excellence for land-based energy generation at Morpeth’s Cockle Park.
Alan Wann, head of regeneration at Northumberland County Council, said: “The Cockle Park project is taking shape and is designed to complement what’s going on at NAREC.
“There’s a variety of ways we can stimulate the renewable sector, not just in terms of wind but also biomass, solar and other sources of energy that can really make a difference to sustainability and our environment.”
The level of skills that go with the pharmaceuticals sector and its successes has provided jobs in Northumberland for over 30 years.
This is picking up a gear to meet changes in global pharmaceuticals manufacturing. Northumberland County Council is working with the sector and the Centre of Excellence for Life Sciences to develop proposals for a biotech and healthcare park in Cramlington.
“The proposals for Cramlington will help retain the high level skills and build a wider sector focused on product and process innovation and development,” said Mr Wann.
The potential for huge growth in tourism has also been reflected in a coordinated approach to promoting the county as a top spot for visitors. The Northumberland Tourism Partnership pulls in more tourists than ever with attractions such as Hadrian’s Wall, Alnwick Garden, and the council’s Northumberland Experience at Woodhorn Centre. Tourism is now one of the fastest-growing sectors.
Land-based industry remains a key component of the economy, despite troubles in agriculture. The council and partners are working with land-based businesses, a recent example being substantial re-investments at Egger in Hexham.
These key sectors will continue to be developed to make the most of opportunities to strengthen the county’s economy.