By BBC LDRS News Hub

Northumberland’s council leader has hailed a £37million package to ensure the North of Tyne’s economic recovery from coronavirus is as green as possible.

The North of Tyne Combined Authority, which covers Northumberland, Newcastle and North Tyneside, will spend around one-fifth of its first five-year budget on carbon reduction and creating green jobs.

Northumberland County Council leader Peter Jackson

Northumberland’s council leader Peter Jackson, who is North of Tyne cabinet member for place and productivity, said: “Clean growth is about de-carbonising the county while improving the local economy.

“There are economic opportunities for the North of Tyne in both the application and advancement of low and zero-carbon technologies, as the need grows for renewable, clean energy generation and use.
“Furthermore, it has the potential to lower our residents’, communities’ and businesses’ energy costs.”

A total of £25million will be spent over eight years on the offshore wind industry – of which Blyth is a major player – with the potential to provide thousands of jobs in offshore and sub-sea projects and on infrastructure development.

Another £10million will be spent over three years on a Green New Deal Fund to lead by example and stimulate innovation and business growth in the areas of energy efficiency, renewables and low-carbon transport.

This will complement a £100,000 plan this year to develop the business case for a Carbon Reduction Fund, that it is hoped will attract £10 million funding, including for community energy projects.

A £2million Green Skills Programme will target workers wishing to retrain from traditional to ‘Green Growth’ industries and a further £100,000 will be spent by 2023 to help communities reduce their carbon emissions.

North of Tyne Mayor Jamie Driscoll said: “Right now attention is on tackling the coronavirus pandemic. I’m working with business groups, local authorities and central government to make sure people’s livelihoods are protected.
“We’re getting an economic recovery plan in place, ready for when the public health crisis is over.”

Meanwhile, the Bishop of Newcastle, speaking in her role as chairman of the North of Tyne Combined Authority inclusive economy board, said it was important to focus help on those worst affected.

“When the inclusive economy board was formed to help make sure any economic prosperity created in the North of Tyne goes right down to the people who need it most, I never dreamt how timely it would be,” the Right Reverend Christine Hardman said.
“We are obviously really worried about the coronavirus in terms of our health, but it’s also going to have a huge economic impact.

“We must be sensible, but with the latest measures announced there are some businesses in particular which are really going to suffer.

“We on this new board are going to be looking very carefully at these economic effects and doing all we can to be as helpful as we can for our economic life in Newcastle, North Tyneside and Northumberland.”

Caption: Northumberland County Council leader Peter Jackson.
North of Tyne Mayor Jamie Driscoll.