The Borderlands region is at the geographical heart of the United Kingdom and has a unique position straddling Scotland and England.
For so many people criss-crossing the border is a routine occurrence – whether that is travelling to work, doing the shopping or visiting family and friends..
Crucially all manner of enterprises rely on business from both sides of the border. That’s why it makes perfect sense for the south of Scotland and north of England to work together for the prosperity of the one million people living in the region.
The Borderlands Growth Deal will deliver just that -bringing more than £450 million to the area and creating 5,500 jobs.
As part of the £1.7 billion invested by the UK Government in city, growth and the Borderland deals, it is a superb example of the UK Government working in partnership with other organisations including the Scottish Government and five local authority areas from Scotland and England.
The bringing together of Scottish Borders, Dumfries and Galloway, Carlisle City, Cumbria and Northumberland County councils has been a unique triumph of cross-border co-operation for the greater good.
As the UK Government-led vaccination programme drives back the coronavirus the Borderland Growth Deal takes on a new significance and will help spearhead the post-pandemic economic recovery.
The UK Government is at the forefront investing £265 million in the area, a sum which will be added to by £85 million from the Scottish Government with the remainder coming from other partners.
Together this investment with substantial contributions from other parents will generate around £1.1 billion GVA to the area.
This partnership lies at the heart of an agreement which will deliver a Dumfries-based Dairy Nexus project to decarbonise the sector through an £8 million state-of-the art centre at Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC).
Further west, the deal will transform Stranraer and Loch Ryan into an exciting leisure destination with the marina project, creating jobs and attracting tourists with support from the Scottish Government and the local authority. A similar approach has been taken to projects to stimulate business growth in Newton Stewart and Castle Douglas by upgrading premises.
Dumfries and Galloway will also benefit from the UK Governments £16.2 million investment in improving digital connectivity in the south of Scotland.
Improving transport links between Scotland and England lies at the heart of the deal with £5 million from the UK Government examining the extension of the Borders railway to Carlisle. An exciting prospect especially when taken alongside the UK Government’s Union Connectivity Review which will transform road, rail, air and sea links across the United Kingdom.
The UK Government will invest £7.8 million in the old nuclear site at Chapelcross in Dumfries and Galloway. Working with the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, the 200 hectare site will be regenerated to create green energy jobs.
A further £19 million will capitalise on the popularity of mountain biking. A Mountain Bike Innovation Centre is planned which will test and manufacture the latest equipment, creating a world class research centre and destination for the sport.
These are just some of the exciting UK Government backed projects north of the border included in the deal which will also focus on education and the tourism sector.
The Borderlands Growth Deal is a shining example of how the UK Government can work with others to benefit local communities. And it adds to the billions the UK Treasury has already invested to support Scotland during the pandemic.
Alongside the many more millions of pounds coming to Scotland through initiatives like our levelling up and shared prosperity funds, this deal will play a key role in putting the coronavirus crisis behind us.