Jobs hopes fly high once more

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AIRPORT chiefs have re-launched a bid to bring a 1,500-job project to the Tees Valley.

An original plea for Durham Tees Valley Airport to grab a £5.9m share of the Regional Growth Fund met with failure last October.

But the Government has now launched a new phase of RGF investment with would-be investors invited to bid for a share of a £350m cash pot.

And airport chairman Robert Hough confirmed they would be re-submitting their bid to develop new road networks and a freight service.

He believes the airport could be in with a shout of winning cash to relaunch its planned 150-acre development programme for land south of the airport runway.

And if it pays off, the airport’s future could be safeguarded, he said.

He believes that, with strong support from the area’s borough councils as well as the regeneration agency Tees Valley Unlimited and local MPs, it should be a strong contender for the next round of the fund.

He said: “We are obviously very pleased that the Government has decided to open a further round of the Regional Growth Fund and we hope it will give us the opportunity to progress with our plans for the development

of the Southside project at the airport and to re-emphasise its significance to support aviation and job creation in the area.

“When the Chancellor announced in his Autumn Statement that the Government would be going ahead with a further round of the Regional Growth Fund we did make clear that we would be resubmitting the bid for the infrastructure works needed for the development of the Southside project.

“The Government has stressed the important role for Local Enterprise Partnerships and we look forward to working with Tees Valley Unlimited and our local authorities in examining how we can ensure that the Southside development is seen as an important element in the overall strategic plans for the area.”

Mr Hough said it was “vital” to the future of the airport that the whole site was developed.

He added: “Funding through the Regional Growth Fund would enable us to provide a link between the existing airport activities on the north side of the runway and the new employment land to the south.

“While there are a wide range of possibilities for attracting businesses related to aviation support activities, we expect that a likely key element in the development would be logistics services, given the proximity to the A66, leading to the A1 and the national motorway network.”