Arguing for renewables

MOST people concerned with boosting the economy of the north east mourn the scrapping of our successful Regional Development Agency and recognise that the Local Economic Partnership (LEP), which replaced it, has far less clout.

But we must make the most of opportunities on offer. The LEP has initiated a critical review. It aims to understand the economy, identify growth opportunities and suggest priorities up to 2030.

Previous studies have been limited or overtaken by continued uncertainty in financial markets and looming public spending cuts. Most cuts and benefit changes are yet to happen. Additionally, the north east will be impacted by as yet unclear changes in Scotland.

I am pleased that the LEP says its review could be an opportunity to sell our region and its successes so that more are attracted by our strengths.

It rightly points out that we have world-leading experience in advanced manufacturing techniques with above average export levels and the most productive car plant in Europe at Nissan.

It rightly highlights that we have a willing and able workforce, significant natural resources, a vibrant and leading university and education sector experience and expertise in energy, low carbon vehicles and smart technologies, stem cells and life sciences, design, and healthcare.

The review is led by Lord Andrew Adonis, former transport secretary and schools minister, who has been in the north east of late.

The review is out soon and will spark a debate. I shall argue that the North Bank of the Tyne becomes a centre of excellence for renewables, given we have great companies there and renewable energy is such an important industry.