We’re behind NEvolution


AN airport chief has spoken up in favour of a bid to give more devolved power to the North East.

Peter Nears, the strategic planning director with the Peel Group which owns Durham Tees Valley Airport, spoke out to support the Hartlepool Mail-backed NEvolution project.

NEvolution is the regionwide campaign backed by newspapers, local authorities and businesses all over the North East.

It hopes to bring more power in areas such as transport, skills and funding to the region.

Officials say one of the keys to the ongoing success of the area is investment in transport so that the region can have strong trade links both nationally and internationally.

Mr Nears said the focus on transport seemed to be in the South East of England at the moment, and added: “There needs to be a re-balance of that.

“If this campaign can help in that respect, that would have a favourable output.”

But he sounded a note of caution, saying NEvolution needs to deliver local results rather than just talk of expansion.

NEvolution also hopes to act upon the recommendations made in Lord Heseltine’s report published in November.

Lord Heseltine was asked to look into ways of improving the economies of English cities and recommended devolving power to the English regions. His report, called No Stone Unturned, also advised that a single local growth fund to deal with housing, skills and transport should be set up. His ideas were largely praised by the Chancellor and the Government.

Mr Nears said: “We are very much in favour of the report and the need to bring focus on development in the regions and take the centre of power out of London.”

He said that would “enable the regions to thrive and really get more focus in the region.”

The airport is currently bidding for £4.6m from the Regional Growth Fund (RGF) to help build a new road. It is part of proposals to develop aviation-related businesses, such as freight, warehousing and aircraft recycling.

Mr Nears said a decision on the bid may be made by next month and he added: “It is very important because it funds some of the essential infrastructure that we need.”