An “ambitious vision” for the county and a “radical” investment approach putting Northumberland’s natural assets at the heart of its economic future has been backed.
The North of Tyne Combined Authority (NTCA) pledged to create a bold new plan to maximise Northumberland’s potential, putting an initial £500,000 into the development of a ‘Stewardship and Rural Growth Investment Plan’.
The scheme will involve compiling a financial value for the sprawling county’s unique natural gifts to help boost investment and put them at the centre of the “green and inclusive” recovery from the effects of Brexit and Covid-19.
Its actions could ultimately include restoring habitats, planting new woodland, backing local farmers, helping to slash carbon emissions, and promoting Northumberland’s “world class landscapes and cultural heritage”.
Northumberland County Council leader Glen Sanderson told the NTCA cabinet the authority had committed to become an “exemplar” for rural growth and stewardship when its devolution deal was struck and that backing the rural economy would have massive benefits for the entire region.
The Conservative leader, a farmer himself, said: “Three priorities – we want to see carbon negative and biodiversity positive outcomes, to develop an inclusive rural economy, and ensure that whatever we do is here to stay. Long-term, practical and realistic.
“But there is a fourth one and it is really important to the people that produce food on farms and those whose families support them, and that is around ensuring that we do not forget food security.
“We see the effects at the moment of relying on imported gas and other power, we do not want to end up in a position where we are at the mercy of world markets.
“The other thing that is really important is to keep that patchwork of farms, the stone walls, the beautiful countryside that we love. We must not allow that to become neglected and overgrown by trees and nothing else.”
North of Tyne mayor Jamie Driscoll added: “The provision of wholesome, affordable local food is essential not only for economic stability but environmental stability as well.”
The investment plan is due to be drawn up by this summer.