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11.12.06
RDA commits £20m to boost Cornish economy

Major funding for Cornwall has been announced today in two separate projects which will secure future growth in Cornwall for years to come.

The South West of England Regional Development Agency (RDA) has agreed to contribute £8 million towards a funding package for Newquay Airport. The investment is to help the airport maintain and develop regional services, including essential links to London and the Isles of Scilly.

St Austell is to receive a further £12,630,000 from the RDA in the last phase of funding for the town's much-needed regeneration, subject to final confirmation from the DTI. Work will start in March 2007.

Juliet Williams, South West RDA chairman, said: "We are very happy to be supporting these two key projects for the ongoing economic regeneration in Cornwall. We are mindful of the fact that the Cornish economy has suffered some serious blows in recent times, particularly job losses at Imerys. The investment decisions we made today involve a large number of jobs, together with training for local people. They will make a significant impact and demonstrate our commitment to the county.

"Newquay Airport needs to operate successfully to bring people into the county for business and pleasure. We are also pleased to be putting the last phase of investment into St Austell to give the community and business a centre to be proud of."

These important decisions were made at today's meeting of the RDA's Board, a group consisting of individuals from the public, private and voluntary sectors.

The investment in Newquay Airport is towards a package of improvements being implemented by Cornwall County Council to allow the airport to continue after the Ministry of Defence withdraws from RAF St Mawgan.

The decision recognises the unique status of Cornwall within the region as an Objective One area and the significant contribution the airport makes to strengthening Cornwall's economy by minimising its distance from key business markets.

The future of the airport would have been in doubt without RDA investment. In supporting the investment, the Board noted the strong economic case, in particular the numbers of jobs either safeguarded (1000) or created (potentially 2000). The fact that over half the airport users are currently in-bound also emphasises the positive impact the airport has on tourism, Cornwall's largest industry.

The Board also acknowledged the strong support for the airport amongst the local business community, which see the benefits in terms of improving productivity and competitiveness. This is recognised in the Regional Economic Strategy which calls for help in delivering access to key economic markets.

The Board carefully weighed up all the issues before coming to its decision, particularly the carbon impact of the airport. The fact that investing in the alternatives of road and rail would require over £1billion of additional funding was noted.

The RDA is committed to looking further at ways in which the airport and its operations could be made carbon neutral. The RDA will also undertake a review of its Airport Strategy for the whole region, recognising the potential impact the Stern Review and the Eddington Report could have on the future of this mode of transport.

Further investment in St Austell comes on top of other significant funding commitments. These include the high-quality Brunel Business Park (nearing completion) and improvements to the public realm which will start shortly. Some £17 million has already been set aside by the RDA for the town centre development.

St Austell is the biggest single town in Cornwall. The RDA believes it deserves a centre to be proud of and which will help spearhead the regeneration of the wider area.

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Editor's notes:

1. The South West of England Regional Development Agency was established by government in 1999 to promote the long-term economic success of the region. It does this by working with others to give people the skills they need, encouraging enterprise, improving infrastructure, helping communities with regeneration and promoting the strengths of the region.
2. The Eddington Transport Study was published on 1 December. It provides advice to Government on the long term links between transport and the UK's economic productivity, growth and stability, within the context of sustainable development. It was published by the Department for Transport and HM Treasury and can be accessed from www.hm-treasury.gov.uk.
3. The Stern Review into the economics of climate change was published by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in October. It can be accessed from www.defra.gov.uk.
4. The RDA's investment in Newquay Airport is part of a package being assembled by Cornwall County Council, with potential contributions also coming from the Department for Transport and Objective One.
5. Objective One is a term used by the European Commission to describe poorer areas and funding is provided to help those areas catch up with more prosperous areas of the European Union.
For more details contact: Paul Norris, South West RDA press office, on 01392 229548.

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Clare Morgan
Media Relations Manager
Objective One Partnership Office
Castle House
Pydar Street
Truro TR1 2UD
Mobile: 07973 813647
Telephone: 01872 223439

cmorgan@cornwall.gov.uk

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