South West LEP to ‘build back better’

Heart of the South West LEP has published its plan to help the area recover from the pandemic and ‘build back better’.

The LEP has developed Build Back Better in consultation with business and its 16 local authority, four university and 10 FE college partners. The plan identifies a number of transformational opportunities that will enable the area to recover from COVID-19 and deliver prosperity and resilience through clean and inclusive growth.

Karl Tucker, chair of Heart of the South West LEP, says: “Whilst the immediate focus over the past year has been on protection for those worst hit by the pandemic, it’s vital that we also look at the medium and longer term opportunities to revitalise and strengthen the Heart of the South West economy.

“Build Back Better sets out the key transformational opportunities in our area that will unlock investment, create more and better jobs, and deliver carbon-net zero in response to the climate change emergency declared by many of our partners. The plan is rooted in the ambitious vision of our Local Industrial Strategy, maintaining our commitment to increasing productivity through clean and inclusive growth.”

The LEP used a robust evidence base to identify Energy, High Value Engineering and Digital as key opportunities to drive growth across multiple sectors. Build Back Better focuses on accelerating those opportunities through the delivery of seven major programmes of activity. These are underpinned by a further four enabling programmes that provide the environment needed to support the plan – around skills, business support, innovation and infrastructure.

Some of the transformational programmes in the plan:

  • Renewable and nuclear energy, stemming from the construction of the UK’s first nuclear power station in 20 years at Hinkley Point C, nuclear submarine decommissioning in Plymouth, and the development of the next generation of marine renewables. The plan aims to capitalise on the potential and be a green energy powerhouse and first net exporter of clean energy.
  • Marine autonomy is a growing, disruptive technology with the power to transform the marine sector. Build Back Better aims to make the area a national and international Centre of Excellence in the development and commercialisation of autonomy, digitisation and other low carbon marine technologies.
  • Photonics is the technology behind the modern world, from mobile phones, to 5G to parking sensors and essentials of land, sea and air-based autonomous vehicles. They are also used in highly sensitive areas such as nuclear inspection. The area has a significant set of photonics businesses and will attract inward investment and skills development to support the creation of a world-class cluster that puts the heart of the south west at the forefront of cutting edge innovation in this field.
  • Sustainable aviation is a major growth area. Working in partnership with neighbouring LEPs and the SW Aerospace Cluster, the plan sets out the establishment of a strong inward investment proposition to attract high value investment in rotary technology and electric aircraft as well as increasing homegrown capability. Its UK Future Flight Programme project 2ZERO, is already supporting the design of new aircraft and airport infrastructure to accommodate smart aviation technologies and fuels.

The programmes in Build Back Better will be led by the HotSW LEP but require a collective effort of all partners in the area to deliver them. The plan calls for locally-led delivery through locally-designed funding, and advocates a devolved single pot of both capital and revenue funding. The LEP will be working with business, other local partners and Government to unlock the funding to realise the huge potential of the area.

To read the full plan to Build Back Back and see all , visit the LEP’s website.

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