Multi-million pound Falkirk Growth Deal set to be signed

The deal – which could unlock up to £1bn of future investment – will deliver 11 major projects to transform the area.

Multi-million pound Falkirk Growth Deal set to be signed Falkirk Council

A £140m investment that it is hoped will bring 2000 new jobs to Falkirk is to be signed off on Tuesday in a major agreement between the UK and Scottish governments and Falkirk Council.

The Falkirk Growth Deal – which could unlock up to £1bn of future investment – will deliver 11 major projects to transform the area.

The cash is a very welcome boost for the ‘Investment Zone’, which focuses on Falkirk and Grangemouth’s huge importance to the national economy and which is already seeing the council working closely with the private sector to attract investment.

A major part of the cash will be to help the area’s petrochemical industry – which currently produces 10% of Scotland’s carbon emissions – to make the complex transformation to net-zero.

The proposals have been years in the planning but the signing of the heads of terms – by Scottish Government economy secretary Kate Forbes, UK Government minister Iain Stewart and the leader of Falkirk Council, Cecil Meiklejohn – is a significant milestone.

In addition to the £90m investment from UK and Scottish governments, there will be a further £45m from Falkirk Council, and £5.8m from Scottish Canals.

This means projects that can now go ahead include developing a new ‘transport hub’ at Falkirk Grahamston railway station and a new canal centre to regenerate the former Barr’s factory at Lock 16 in Camelon.

There will also be several schemes that will put Grangemouth in the forefront of sustainable technology.

These include £10m for a carbon dioxide utilisation centre that will capture CO2 to manufacture more sustainable products.

And a further £10m will help to develop new sustainable processes using feedstocks such as food processing and whisky by-products.

The aim is for Grangemouth to lead the way in a ‘just transition’ away from fossil fuels, in a way that won’t leave communities behind in the way they were when the steel works and coal mines closed forever.

Among the projects will be £4m for an innovation skills transition centre that will be led by Forth Valley College, helping local school and college students get the right skills for local industry.

The £21m transport hub at Falkirk Grahamston – which will be renamed Falkirk Central – will be part of a ‘green corridor’, including the new Westfield Crossing, that will connect Falkirk and Grangemouth for cyclists and pedestrians.

And there will be £4m to create Scotland’s Canal Centre, which will include Scottish Canal’s new headquarters.

The cash will also help the area tap into the success of the Kelpies and the Falkirk Wheel, with a further £3m for Scotland’s National Outdoor Art Park, along the Forth and Clyde canal.

Forbes said the deal would “enable inclusive and sustainable economic growth for the area, creating a fairer and greener economy”.

She added: “The deal will help regenerate town centres, create new cultural attractions, transform local transport, reskill the workforce and help decarbonise industry.

“Our investment will ensure communities from across Falkirk and the surrounding area benefit from opportunities created and highlights our commitment to invest in our places and people.”

Stewart added: “The deal will create and protect jobs in the area through innovative projects such as supporting Grangemouth petrochemical complex’s transition away from fossil fuels with the creation of a centre of excellence in carbon capture as we move towards net-zero.

“Skills and training will get a boost too with the creation of sites for sustainable manufacturing that will encourage further investment.

“Making public transport cleaner, greener and more accessible with a new transport hub will encourage visitors.”

At a meeting of Falkirk Council on Monday, councillors gave their backing to the scheme with a general agreement that it was good news for the district.

Some expressed their concern that while the deal is great news for Falkirk and Grangemouth, other parts of the district would not benefit.

But they were told that the 2000 jobs created would be for people right across the area, not just in Grangemouth – and that the initial funds would unlock more money in the future.

Cecil Meiklejohn, leader of Falkirk Council, said: “This investment by the UK and Scottish governments will bring a massive economic boost to the local area and has the potential to create up to 2000 jobs and attract £1bn of private sector investment.

“A lot of hard work has gone into securing this deal, which will help us deliver on our council priorities and our Council of the Future transformation programme.”

By local democracy reporter Kirsty Paterson

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