Working alongside companies and organisations in my constituency to safeguard and develop new jobs is a big part of my work each day. I believe it is essential to rebalance our economy away from a dependence on financial services in London and the south-east to a more sustainable mix of manufacturing more goods, generating more energy as well as producing more food and drink to sell in our own country and around the world.
So I was delighted with the news on Monday that the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) has been successful in securing £13million from the central government Regional Growth Fund (RGF). As Chris Pomfret, the Chairman of the LEP, quite rightly stated investment of this scale is hard to come by in the current economic climate and this reflects the quality of the bid which has been designed to meet the short and long term needs of the private sector. This funding is projected to attract further investments of £30million and will create over 4,000 jobs at a time when they are desperately needed.
The funding will be split into two separate strands. The first strand will be competitive and will provide businesses and social enterprises with capital grants and investments to grasp the opportunities of new Superfast Broadband. This will be particularly helpful to the large numbers of Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs) which make up the majority of the local economy. The second strand will fund infrastructure projects in the marine, mineral, renewable energy and aerospace industries which will unlock private sector investment.
With a second successful bid secured from this very competitive fund, Cornwall is certainly punching above its weight. It is hoped that the £6.05million of RGF funding secured by Geothermal Engineering Ltd will leverage approximately £42million of private investment, together with £1.48million from the Department of Energy and Climate Change.
The company plans to create the UK’s first deep geothermal power plant at United Downs and a Centre of Research Excellence for Geothermal Energy with the University of Exeter at its Tremough Campus. This will kick start the development of the deep geothermal industry across the country and could potentially lead to the creation of 1,064 jobs in Geothermal Engineering Ltd alone over the next 20 years, alongside approximately 9,000 jobs in the manufacturing, engineering and construction industries across Cornwall.
From my ‘Maiden Speech’ in Parliament I have supported this project and I will continue to do all that I can to support the growth and development of this industry.
Building on Cornish mining expertise, experiments into deep geothermal energy were undertaken in Cornwall with the ‘hot rocks’ project, so it is great to see after years of painstaking work the investment finally flowing. Investment in sustainable new energy is the right thing to do now. Not only is this a boost to the local economy but to the UK energy security. It has been estimated that up to 15% of UK energy could be produced from deep geothermal.