North Ayrshire Council plots green recovery with new economic strategy
A new economic strategy which will focus on a better, fairer and greener recovery and renewal from COVID-19 has been approved by North Ayrshire Council.
The local authority has published its ‘Local Green New Deal’ which outlines how an £8.8 million investment fund will be used as a key element of the plans by:
- Maximising renewable energy generation using the council’s land and assets;
- The creation of a new Green Jobs Fund to ensure a just transition for North Ayrshire;
- Investing in commercial estate including improving sustainability;
- Tackling vacant and derelict land and buildings in town centres;
- Supporting community economic development including through community regeneration and ownership; a
- A tree planting programme to support carbon absorption.
In May this year, North Ayrshire Council became the first in Scotland to become a Community Wealth Building (CWB) Council, setting out a new economic model focused on wellbeing and inclusion. The council will use CWB objectives to support the recovery and renewal of North Ayrshire by creating an economy that works for people, place and planet. It has received acclaim for its approach and recently became the first local authority in Scotland to become a member of the global Wellbeing Economy Alliance.
The council will use its capital investment to accelerate recovery and the wider regeneration of the area, at the same time as tackling climate change. All capital projects – including the regeneration of Ardrossan Harbour and North Shore, Lochshore, the Upper Garnock Valley Flood Protection Scheme, and the construction of new social housing as well as the redevelopment of existing stock – will use the CWB model to provide investment in local infrastructure, land and assets and to develop local supply chains to create fair jobs and stimulate an inclusive economy.
The £250m Ayrshire Growth Deal is also central to the plans to support economic recovery through a bold and ambitious investment programme to create and secure jobs at a time when investment has never been more needed.
The approach will see the roll-out of a new £660,000 Community Wealth Building Business Fund to provide assistance to local business and facilitating the development of co-operatives, employee ownership and social enterprises, supporting local supply chains, fair employment, digital adoption and the transition to a green economy.
Priority will be on those groups hardest hit by the economic impact of COVID-19 including a focus on ensuring the wellbeing and success of young people in the area.
The council has also announced it will place Community Wealth Building and the Climate Emergency at the heart of its decision-making process.
Councillor Joe Cullinane, council leader and cabinet member for Community Wealth Building, said: “We are in the midst of a global recession and now is the time to be bold, think differently and build a new economy.
“That new economy must work for the benefit of people and planet, ending decades of an extractive economic model that has worked for neither and has saw inequality soar to record levels.
“The council has shown real economic leadership with the launch of our Community Wealth Building strategy in May – the first of its kind in Scotland which sets out a new economic model.
“North Ayrshire already had a fragile economy before COVID-19 and we will feel this economic shock for some time but we are committed to supporting our business base to rebuild, support communities into fair jobs and enhance local wellbeing, at the same time as tackling climate change.
“This is one of the most ambitious approaches to economic recovery and renewal anywhere in the UK and our Green New Deal for North Ayrshire will ensure economic, social and environmental justice for our communities moving forward.”
He added: “Things might look bleak just now but I am determined that we will come out of this with a better, fairer and greener North Ayrshire for all.“