Shoring up Cornwall
By Michael O'Neill, Associate Civil Engineer
We are providing technical review and project management services for several projects in Cornwall, such as the Luxulyan Valley hydro scheme and the A30/A38 Callywith Gate improvements – and the county represents a region of growing interest for Peter Brett Associates.
Now that the dust is beginning to settle on the UK’s decision to leave the EU, it’s worth taking a more detailed look at the potential impact and opportunities that the result of the referendum might have on infrastructure projects in the county.
Like regions such as west Wales and the Welsh Valleys, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly qualify for additional EU funding, as their economic performance is below 75% of the European Union average. This funding has been used to support economic growth, create jobs and help sustain the local agricultural and fishing industries.
In 2000, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly were classified by the European Union as an ‘Objective 1’ region; and received £350m of funding between 2000 and 2006, which helped lay the foundations to revive the local economy. This first tranche of funding partly sought to overcome the economic hurdles associated with Cornwall’s peripheral location and poor external connections by funding key projects, such as:
- The ‘ACT NOW’ investment in broadband technology
- Newquay Cornwall Airport
- Dualling of the A30 at Goss Moor
- Main rail line between Truro and St Austell.
In 2007, the county was awarded ‘Convergence Status’ due to its relatively weak economy, and was therefore eligible for £415m of funding between 2007 and 2013. This funding has supported a number of initiatives to drive innovation across Cornwall, as well as infrastructure projects, including the Aerohub Business Park, road improvements to the A391 at Carluddon, and the Environment and Sustainability Institute.
Thanks to Convergence Funding, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly were also eligible for €603M of funding as part of its most recent Growth Deal Programmes. This funding has significantly contributed towards infrastructure projects like the Carkeel Junction improvements on the A38, Spaceport Cornwall, and the Bodmin Cycle Town Schemes.
Clearly, the result of the referendum (in which Cornwall voted 56.5% to 43.5% in favour of leaving the EU) will cast some doubt over future funding and opportunities for investment going forward. Before the referendum, the Leave campaign promised Cornwall Council the same level of funding if Britain were to leave the EU, and reassurance is now being sought from the Local Enterprise Partnership that this funding will be made available.
EU funding has greatly contributed to the growth of the economy and availability of jobs in Cornwall, and that funding is secure for projects which currently have subsidies in place under the Growth Deal scheme. Going forward, the government will need to replace the EU funding so that investment in infrastructure is maintained. This will help ensure that Cornwall’s economy continues to thrive, and will provide additional incentives for investment from private sector developers.
In partnership with Mace, we will continue to work on the EU funded projects that we have in place, and will look to expand on these opportunities to assist in bringing these projects to fruition.