Video report by Bruce McKenzie
Signed today, the UK and Scottish governments have come together for the first time to fund a growth deal like this. The Deal promises funding for projects on both sides of the border, with the five councils working together for mutual benefit.
It's a culmination of a process that's taken several years. It's been incredibly complex. It's the biggest growth deal by area of any in the whole of the UK, lots of benefit coming to the Scottish Borders as a result.
The investment aims to deliver across four main areas: improving places around the region, better infrastructure, green growth and supporting local businesses and skills.Projects set for southern Scotland include:
Borders rail - £10m will go into a feasbility study into more than 60 miles of new track to extend the Borders railway from Tweedbank to Carlisle.
Star of Caledonia - The sculpture aims to stimulate economic growth by attracting additional visitors to the region and acting as landmark sculpture at Gretna. As part of this £7 million investment, up to £1.5 million of UK Government money will be invested subject to full business case approval by 2022, alongside private sector investment.
Stranraer Marina - £18 million, with £16 million from Scottish Government and£2 million from Dumfries and Galloway Council, subject to full business case approval,to repurpose Stranraer and Loch Ryan as a marine leisure destination.
Business Infrastructure Programme – £13.4m investment across the South of Scotland will support new and improved business units with sites in Coldstream, Hawick, Annan, Castle Douglas and Newton Stewart, to address the lack of modern business premises which are able to match current need.
Mountain Bike Project – £19m will hope to create the world’s first Mountain Bike Innovation Centre working with South of Scotland Enterprise Agency and Edinburgh Napier University, and creating an integrated Adventure Bike Park and Trail Lab in Innerleithen.
Rural Innovation and Skills – £8m will be invested to support the Dairy Nexus innovation centre with Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) which will move the sector to the forefront of the bio-economy. There will also be £7m to support the South of Scotland Learning Network and develop the Forestry Innovation Centre proposition to ensure the forestry sector is ready to adopt new approaches.
Chapelcross – £15.3m of Borderlands funding to catalyse the redevelopment of the former nuclear power station at Chapelcross. This is a unique opportunity to develop a high-quality, green energy focused regional employment centre on the 210 hectare site.
It's a deal which I believe will strategically build on the area's natural assets, its resources and its entrepreneurial spirit to drive sustainable economic growth in the future.