Open to Green Business
Open to green business – supporting the transition to net zero
By Dominie Dunbrook, Place Manager, Economic Development & Regeneration at North Devon Council
North Devon has a strong independent culture, fostering self-reliance, independent spirit and entrepreneurialism. This independent spirit links with a history of being remote from the main centres of regional and national administrative power. However, this also developed a keen sense of entrepreneurship and innovation going back as far as the 16th and 17th centuries when our area used our maritime expertise to raise the economic prosperity of Barnstaple and Bideford in particular.
We have successfully used the sea to open up new trade routes to export and import from our area for many years. Goods traded such as cloth, pottery, wool, iron, leather and even salt cod! Fast forward to the 21st century and we still have a thriving fishing industry out of Ilfracombe, developing aquaculture business out of Bideford and leisure and recreation industries across the northern Devon coastline.
We have a world-class business base in northern Devon, ranging from manufacturing, high-tech engineering, services, tourism, agriculture and creative industries. These span a range of sectors, are in all sizes and export to world markets. North Devon and Torridge District Councils will support our businesses to continue to thrive in northern Devon with a new business support programme and associated grant scheme, delivered by our excellent business support agency, North Devon +, and funded by the UK Shared Prosperity Fund. We are also looking at ways in which we can unlock further employment land and create innovation clusters for key industries to achieve high growth.
However, it is to the sea that we look again to further our economic wealth in northern Devon. Working with partners such as Petroc, the Universities of Exeter and Plymouth, North Devon + and a huge range of talented industry leaders, we are creating opportunities for growth in green hydrogen, aquaculture and floating offshore wind industries across northern Devon. Preparing the right skill sets within a motivated workforce, challenging our existing businesses to be ready to adapt to new opportunities to supply to an industry that could unlock huge economic potential as well as play a major role in helping us move towards net zero as an area by 2050. We already boast innovative research and development business facilities in Barnstaple with these being enhanced by the building of the Clean Maritime Innovation Centre in Appledore in the next few years. Business enterprise centres such as Node, in Barnstaple and facilities at Caddsdown, together with a host of flexible work hubs are ready to welcome new businesses – migrating in or homegrown.
Together with our neighbours in Torridge, North Devon Council is working with a key group of motivated industry leaders to ensure we deliver for our existing excellent business base, but also proactively generate the interest of new industries to set up in our area, complementing and enhancing our economy.