Housing and renewables key elements of new £70m rural growth deal for Argyll and Bute

A £70 million investment in economic growth for Argyll and Bute has been agreed with the formal signing of the area’s rural growth deal today.

The rural growth deal (RGD) brings together £25 million each from the Scottish and UK governments, and at least £20m via Argyll and Bute Council and partners, creating opportunities for people living in the region and attracting future investment.

With the signing, Argyll and Bute Council, the UK Government and Scottish Government will agree the themes for the 10–15 year RGD programme of investment.

It is hoped that the development of housing will help attract the people and skills the area needs, boosting economic growth.

The use of renewable energy resources to help deliver more sustainable local energy systems on Islay is also among set for development via the fund, as well as aquaculture, tourism, digital connectivity and skills for a rural economy.

Councillor Robin Currie, leader of Argyll and Bute Council, said: “The Rural Growth Deal is about turning economic potential into a successful future for Argyll and Bute. This transformational investment will focus on connecting our high value business sectors with national and international business markets, on attracting additional skills, residents, visitors and businesses, and on growing benefit from our fantastic natural assets.

“Reaching this milestone has been a partnership effort – thank you to everyone involved. Especially in these times of unprecedented challenge, this is an important day for Argyll and Bute.”

Signatories Councillor Robin Currie, leader of Argyll and Bute Council; cabinet secretary for transport, infrastructure and connectivity Michael Matheson; and UK Government minister Iain Stewart

Cabinet secretary for transport, infrastructure and connectivity Michael Matheson said: “Today marks the signing of the Heads of Terms agreement, a significant step forward for the Argyll and Bute Rural Growth Deal. The Scottish Government is supporting this deal with investment of up to £25 million.

“This deal will drive and deliver projects, designed by local partners, that will help to reinvigorate the region’s economy and build strategically for its long term growth and prosperity. Playing to Argyll and Bute’s strengths, projects will focus on creating a world class visitor destination and building on its world leading marine research expertise reflected in the marine aquaculture programme.

“At a time of such economic uncertainty and challenge, the projects and investment committed through the deal will be more important than ever and will play a key role in the region’s recovery from the pandemic. Investments through the deal will create new jobs, protect existing jobs and extend economic opportunities to communities, businesses and individuals across the region.

“I appreciate all the hard work that Argyll and Bute Council and their partners have put in to get us to this point. We will continue to work with Argyll and Bute Council over the coming months, to help them develop the projects to unlock investment and drive inclusive growth across the area as swiftly as possible.”

UK Government minister Iain Stewart said: “This is an important milestone for the Argyll and Bute Rural Growth Deal which will play a vital role in building back better from COVID-19.

“These innovative and ambitious plans will unlock jobs, opportunities and sustainable growth for communities throughout the region.

“The UK Government has committed more than £1.5 billion to growth deals across Scotland to secure our future prosperity.”

The next stage is for the council and its partners to develop outline business cases that will set out the detail of projects for delivery. Projects will be delivered across Argyll and Bute Work once the detailed business cases are agreed.

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