Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn was full of praise for the major development plans to boost an area of Northumberland during his visit to the county today.
Accompanied by representatives from Arch and Ronnie Campbell, MP for Blyth Valley, he was taken to see the area designated as the East Sleekburn Enterprise Zone and the Blyth Workspace facility.
The enterprise zone site, which is within the wider Energy Central area, comprises the former Blyth A and B Power Station and the former Ash Barge Dock that are currently derelict.
The Government’s expected announcements for future wind farms, the EDF Blyth Offshore demonstrator project and the North Sea Link Interconnector Project have all put the spotlight firmly on the Blyth Estuary.
This first stage of works, funded by Northumberland County Council, North East Local Enterprise Partnership and Arch, involves earthworks operations to reclaim the land to create a 16-hectare development area.
Subsequent stages will include the development of the dock and connecting the reclaimed land to it, to deliver direct access to the Port of Blyth facilities and improve access to the A189.
A planning application for the dock upgrade was recently submitted by Arch to the county council.
Mr Corbyn said: “I think it’s very exciting that a former power station site will become an integral part of a major wind energy scheme.
“The focus here is on creating localised energy production using sustainable sources, which is happening successfully in other parts of the country.
“This follows the German model that relies much less on big companies and we are currently working on a proposal to develop local energy co-operatives.”
The businesses he spoke to at Blyth Workspace included Trench Networks Limited, which was established in 2015. It delivers internet connectivity to construction sites across the UK.
“I’m pleased with how Arch is giving businesses the support they need to thrive, particularly with state-of-the-art incubation centres such as Blyth Workspace,” he added.
“The creation of Arch has helped to develop Northumberland’s economy and create much-needed jobs.”
Of the upcoming Northumberland elections in May, he said: “I hope people support Labour’s candidates and leadership as a result of what it has achieved over the last four years in terms of delivering good quality housing, developing areas that had been left behind and providing opportunities for young people.”
He also said it was good to meet up with Mr Campbell again in his constituency following his previous visit to Blyth last year for a fund-raiser to support Mr Campbell after he was diagnosed with stomach cancer.
Mr Campbell said: “It was nice to show Jeremy these key sites in Blyth today and tell him about the plans to improve the area.
“I think he likes Blyth and he was very interested in Arch and how it works.
“It’s a great boost for us that the leader of our party has praised the work the we are doing in Northumberland.”