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Proposed Borderlands growth deal initiative makes waves

Words: Roger Milne
Chapelcross nuclear power station

Proposals for a regional growth initiative straddling the Scottish border and involving Dumfries and Galloway Council and Scottish Borders Council has been submitted to the UK and Scottish governments.

The proposals – known as the Borderlands Inclusive Growth Deal – involve place-based projects including the redevelopment of the Chapelcross nuclear power station site and the so-called Mountain Bike Innovation Centre earmarked for Glentress in the Scottish Borders.

Also in the frame is a feasibility study into extending the Borders Railway from Carlisle to Tweedbank.

The initiatives seeking funding include an energy investment company, better digital connectivity, tourism measures, a business infrastructure programme and a knowledge exchange network.

The multimillion-pound growth deal has been put together by the Borderlands Partnership, a unique collaboration bringing the two Scottish local authorities together with Carlisle City Council, Cumbria County Council and Northumberland County Council.

Cabinet secretary for transport Michael Matheson MSP said: “The Scottish Government is committed to working towards a Borderlands deal that will drive inclusive growth, delivering real economic benefit for individuals, businesses and communities across the region. We look forward to discussing the detail of what could form a heads of terms agreement for the deal over the coming weeks.”

In a separate but related move, Glentress Forest is to benefit from a £1 million funding package from the Scottish administration that will see the creation of 16 kilometres of new mountain biking trails as part of infrastructure improvements associated with a development of 56 eco-cabins in the forest.

Meanwhile, Liz Truss, chief secretary to the UK Treasury, has formally invited Moray Growth Deal partners to submit plans on their priorities for boosting economic growth and productivity.