Torridge plans £18million maritime center

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Plan of Appledore Maritime Center (image courtesy of Torridge District Council)

He asks the government for most of the money

Plans for a ‘pioneer’ maritime innovation center at Appledore are being sent to the government in the hope that it will receive ‘upgrade’ funding.

Torridge councilors this week approved a bid of around £15million to create the Appledore Clean Maritime Innovation Centre, which the council says will put the region ‘at the heart of maritime developments in the net zero era. “.

It is hoped that the project, which will include the first university research center in North Devon, will make the area a leading research and development space in the sector.

The center will bring together research and industrial partners from the universities of Plymouth and Exeter, as well as workshops, offices, a wet lab and aquaculture tanks for local and national companies.

The request to the leveling fund will be the largest ever submitted by the District Council, which will provide matching funding to meet the total expected cost of £17.3million.

It says the center will “act as a catalyst for local economic growth” by providing a base for floating offshore wind activity in North Devon – otherwise known as FLOW.

The electricity produced by the proposed Celtic Sea FLOW developments will be equivalent to powering around three million homes and providing around 3,000 jobs. It could also create £682m of supply chain demand in the South West and Wales.

A report presented at a special meeting of the district council on Monday [4 July] said: “All of these higher-skilled and higher-paying roles will drive greater purchasing power in the community and follow private investment, including in local town centers and employment infrastructure.

“Basically, [the centre] will provide new inspiration and a visible indication of the potential for real success in Torridge and North Devon, by stimulating education and tackling long-term entrenched deprivation and truly embodying the upgrading agenda.

Councilors have already been told how the scheme aims to improve the local economy, saying GDP per capita in Torridge is just £17,493 compared to £26,765 in neighboring North Devon.

The chances of the auction succeeding are increased because Torridge’s priority for upgrading is at the highest level (level one).

Several letters supporting the scheme have been provided, including from Devon County Council, the South West Business Council, industry bodies and the Appledore Maritime Heritage Trust.

Local MP Sir Geoffrey Cox (Conservative) has provided a letter of support and the council says a series of ‘community pledges’ are 99.9 per cent positive about the proposal.

How the maritime center could watch (image courtesy of Torridge District Council)

Council leader Ken James (Independent, Milton & Tamarside) said in the report: “The benefits to the local economy and local community are both clear and significant.

“This is the most significant opportunity that has ever been presented to us as a council, and it is an opportunity that we must capitalize on in order to truly address the deprivation constraints and ensure that Torridge is absolutely a ideal place to live, work and visit for all.

Adviser Robert Hicks (independent, Monkleigh & Putford), Principal Member for Economics, added: “We must provide opportunities to maximize the huge potential for economic growth that floating offshore wind presents, while building on our traditional maritime force.

“Unless we are proactive with this project, we will not create the huge potential benefits or solve the deep rooted issues of deprivation that have held this region back for too long.

The members approved the upgrade offer and also agreed to the council undertaking further work on the design so that a full planning application could be submitted.

The government is expected to decide which bids have been accepted by the fall. If given the green light, Torridge expects the center to open in 2025.

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