A CGI of Britishvolt's 2.7m sq ft Gigaplant
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Northumberland strides ahead with huge gains in inward investment activity

Over the last 12 months, the team at Advance Northumberland have played a key role in securing major inward investments into Northumberland, working with and on behalf of Northumberland County Council.

These investments are helping to transform the county, provide opportunities for local people, and contribute to the UK’s drive to Net Zero.

The Advance Northumberland team have been showcasing the investment opportunities on offer at a range of events; talking to investors, business leaders and innovators about the development sites, assets and capabilities Northumberland has to offer to growing companies.

As we move into a new financial year, the team look back at an exciting 12 months.

Energy Central powers forward

2021/22 was hugely significant in the development of Energy Central, a partnership between Advance Northumberland, Port of Blyth, Northumberland County Council and the Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult. Energy Central is a deep water base for businesses working across renewable energy, offshore wind, subsea engineering, decommissioning, battery manufacturing and energy storage, and it is putting Northumberland on the energy transition map.

Having secured 95 HA of prime strategic employment land from Northumberland County Council and with considerable support from Advance Northumberland, Britishvolt was able to secure planning permission to build its first 2.7 million sq ft battery Gigaplant on Northumberland Energy Park Phase 3. At £2.6 billion, it’s one of the UK’s largest ever industrial investments and is set to bring 3,000 jobs to Cambois, with another 5,000 in the local supply chains.

A CGI of JDR Cable Systems new facility located on Northumberland Energy Park.

And in January 2022, the Government announced that a principle offer of funding had been made through the Automotive Transformation Fund, which has enabled a partnership with Tritax and abrdn that will deliver £1.7 billion in private funding for the Britishvolt site. Tritax and abrdn were announced as Britishvolt’s partners to fund the build of the project, shell and core, as well as to develop the supplier park.

Developments supporting the offshore wind sector have continued Last September, we welcomed plans from JDR Cables – the global subsea cable and umbilical supplier and servicer – to build a £130 million manufacturing facility at Northumberland Energy Park Phase 1. It’s set to create 170 jobs and when complete, will be the only facility in the UK capable of producing high voltage subsea cables for offshore wind farms from start to finish.

This significant investment is built upon the long term vision and investment at Northumberland Energy Park by Advance Northumberland, Northumberland County Council and the North East Local Enterprise Partnership. In addition, in September 2021, Port of Blyth was selected by Seaway 7 as the location for the storage and mobilisation of inter-array cable for the Seagreen Offshore Wind Farm.

A month later, The North Sea Link (NSL), a 450-mile subsea electricity cable between Blyth and the Norwegian village of Kvilldal, became operational. It’s the world’s longest subsea electricity link and is a major new source of renewable energy.

The NSL is a €1.6 billion joint investment by National Grid and Statnett and we’re proud that the NSL’s UK infrastructure is sited on Northumberland Energy Park Phase 2.

Port of Blyth’s 17 HA Bates Clean Energy Terminal has also come to prominence. It offers quayside development land, two berths, a RoRo pontoon, warehousing and workshop space, a marine fuels facility and 7 HA of open storage and development land. It’s also home to Port Training Services’ £1 million Wind Turbine Training Facility and is set to be a centre for a number of low carbon initiatives.

With a supplier park and an increase in the strategic employment land being planned, there is much more to come from Energy Central.

A growing hub for advanced manufacturing

Northumberland has the infrastructure, transport links, supply chain and workforce to support advanced manufacturing. We’ve proved that the county can attract major investment in this area and that companies already located here don’t need to look elsewhere to grow their businesses. Take Contec Cleanroom (UK) Ltd for example.

The company, which manufactures contamination control products, was established at a 22,000 sq ft unit at Wansbeck Business Park, Ashington in 2015.

In September 2021, Contec UK demonstrated its confidence in Northumberland by announcing that it was to build a 60,000 sq ft advanced manufacturing and office facility at Ashwood Business Park in Ashington, now in the latter stages of construction.

This 62-acre site – already home to AkzoNobel – is one of the largest development sites in Northumberland. It offers excellent connectivity, access to the region’s supply chain, and the opportunity to expand.

The business park is also a North East Local Enterprise Partnership (North East LEP) Enterprise Zone: organisations locating there can benefit from 100 per cent Enhanced Capital Allowances.

Contec UK is part of a Northumberland manufacturing landscape which includes Kilfrost, EGGER UK, Thermo Fisher Scientific, TT Electronics, Merit, Renolit, Essity and Avery Dennison.

Looking ahead with the Northumberland Local Plan now formally adopted, sites such as Northumberland Energy Park, Ashwood Business Park, West Hartford, Ramparts Business Park and Wansbeck Business Park, have the capacity to support further economic growth and investment.

Supporting businesses and supercharging innovation

The Rural Design Centre Innovation Project – a collaboration between Advance Northumberland, Innovation SuperNetwork and Northumbria University – linked up with the National Innovation Centre for Rural Enterprise (NICRE) in October 2021 to launch its first annual conference.

The Rural Catalyst Conference, hosted in Alnwick Garden, brought together innovative businesses, entrepreneurs, researchers and rural community groups, and was opened with an address by HRH The Prince of Wales, Patron of the Prince’s Countryside Fund.

The event put a spotlight on the issues that residents and businesses face in rural Northumberland and the partnership work taking place to tackle these. Alnwick Garden also played host to the finale of Digital Disruption. Shaped and delivered by Advance’s Business Northumberland business support programme, this week of hybrid events last September focussed on providing businesses with the skills to develop their digital footprint, increase sales and get their business noticed online.

Reflecting on an exciting 12 months

From renewable energy infrastructure to rural business innovation, advanced manufacturing growth to R&D and digital skills training, Northumberland has not stood still… and we’re looking forward to what the rest of 2022 has in store.

Find out more at https://www.advancenorthumberland.co.uk/

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