Torbay Mayor cuts turf for new South West Energy Centre
WORK HAS BEGUN on South Devon College's new multi-million pound Energy Centre, as Mayor of Torbay Gordon Oliver officially cut the turf this week at Whiterock Business Park in Paignton.
The recent approval of a £2.5m investment from the South West European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) was announced as the final part of the funding jigsaw to add to the £1.2m from the Regional Growth Fund and £2m from the Skills Development Agency, which - with the College's own funds - is designed to create a long term sustainable investment for the area and over 400 jobs.
At the turf cutting ceremony, College Principal Stephen Criddle explained how without this funding the project could not go ahead: "We are indebted to the ERDF, as well as all the others, who through their funding are enabling us to create such an exciting and important project which will play a major role in growing the low carbon sector in the South West. ERDF funding will support not only the capital build costs of this inspiring new Centre, but also the business support and community engagement functions. There will also be incubation space integrated into the Centre so that those thinking of setting up businesses in the energy sector will have the expert support they need on hand. We plan to create 400 new private sector jobs through the Centre's activities and to ensure that South Devon is regarded as a hub for low carbon and renewables related businesses – both new and old – to set up and thrive."
Gordon Oliver was delighted to cut the turf for this exciting project. Remembering his years as a student and as Governor at the College, he was well aware of the College's progress over the years.
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Looking to the future, he said: "In a few years' time we will be paying £10 for a gallon of petrol; we need new technologies to heat our homes and conserve energy. This Centre is at the forefront of new developments - the time is right, and I look forward to coming here again in a year's time to see this wonderful Centre in action. This sort of development is just what Torbay needs to create jobs and reduce unemployment."
Colin Skellett, Deputy Chairman of the Local Management Committee which steers the South West Competitiveness ERDF Programme, said "The Programme is delighted to be investing £2.5m into the South West Energy Centre. The Centre is a fantastic opportunity to contribute to the growth of a new sector which will bring jobs and business opportunities to this area. We look forward to working with South Devon College and their partners to make this ambition a reality."
The construction work, by Kier Construction, is on schedule to be complete by the summer of 2013, ready to deliver training to local businesses and individuals. It will also provide research and development facilities for companies wishing to try out new products and technologies, with the opportunity to collaborate on their research with the Universities of Exeter and Plymouth.
Businesses who are keen to take advantage of partner opportunities with what the Energy Savings Trust describes as "a high profile, inspirational skills and business development facility of national significance" should contact the Energy Centre Director, Paddy McNevin, on 01803 540738 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Those attending the ceremony included Eifion Jones (Head of Competitiveness at the ERDF team, Department of Communities and Local Government), Stephen Criddle (Principal of South Devon College), Kevin Mowat (Chair of Governors, South Devon College), Alastair Mullen (Pre-construction, Kier Construction) and his team, student representatives from Plumbing and Electrical courses at the College, and Layla Adaci, South Devon College Student Union President.
Anyone interested in the training currently available at the Centre or to find out more about the Centre's activities, can email email@example.com or phone 01803 540725. For more information visit the Centre's website at www.southwestenergycentre.co.uk.