What I would do as Mayor of North of Tyne?
A green industrial revolution for North of Tyne:
more jobs, better jobs, green jobs
My vision as the first directly elected Mayor of North of Tyne would be to deliver a green industrial revolution that resulted in a booming economy that brings good quality jobs and helps achieve the greenest English region.
There is already a plan for more and better jobs in the North East, which the North of Tyne region is part of. This plan has been agreed by the region’s politicians, led by Labour, in partnership with the business and wider community. The North East Local Enterprise Partnership (the LEP) is in charge of delivering this plan and you can read about it here: https://www.nelep.co.uk
If I were to be elected Mayor then helping to deliver this plan would be central to my role because more and better jobs is exactly what the North of Tyne, like the wider North East, needs first and foremost.
In addition I would work to make as many of these new jobs – green jobs. I also want to North of Tyne to be the greenest region in England.
Creating more jobs, building more homes, stopping population decline, making the region more attractive to live in – are all important goals – however we must not achieve these goals in a way that damages our environment. We need growth that is green and the North of Tyne region is well placed to lead the country – as we once did during the industrial revolution – but this time in a green industrial revolution.
Since industrialisation our economy has been based on fossil fuels – coal, gas & oil – and we now know the damage this has caused our environment, particularly in the form of the growing threat of climate change.
Although the shift to renewables is underway, time is running out. Think of those shocking Blue Planet images of plastic pollution in our oceans, hence we must make more of the products we need from renewable, sustainable materials and recycle as many of these products as possible. Welcome to the green industrial revolution of the bio-economy!
A great example of the bio-economy is that anything we once made from oil we can now make from wood. Timber is a renewable and sustainable resource as long as we manage our forests carefully, within safe environmental limits.
As Mayor of North of Tyne I would aim to double forest cover in our region over the course of the next 20 years. In the meantime we can import timber from Scandinavia to provide the feedstock for an emerging bio-economy which will provide the new green jobs.
These jobs could include the manufacture of a new generation of construction timbers that have the structural strength of steel and concrete enabling buildings to reach up to 40 storeys high. The manufacture of concrete is responsible for 8% of global carbon emissions so reducing its use is critical. At the same time wood, both as growing forests and sawn timber, absorbs over 10% of Europe’s carbon emissions, hence more wood means less CO2.
Wood has many other uses in the bio-economy. For instance industrial sugars for the pharmaceutical industry, which is surprisingly big in the North East, can be made from wood. Textiles can also be made from wood substituting for cotton which, when grown in the developing world often uses land that would be better suited for local food production.
The UK, particularly on Teesside, does have industries that are part of the bio-economy but nowhere in the UK is wood being used as the feedstock for this rapidly growing industry. This is ‘the gap in the market’ that North of Tyne should be aiming for.
The old coal fired power station site at Blyth and the former aluminium smelter site at Lynemouth are ideal locations for a wood based bio-economy cluster to develop along with additional sites on the north bank of the Tyne. With two deep water ports and a new green supply of electricity via the world’s longest underwater electricity cable currently being laid from Norway to South East Northumberland we are well placed to seize the initiative and create a green industrial revolution centred on a bio-economy that would bring new green jobs to North of Tyne.
A green industrial revolution can in turn be at the heart of making North of Tyne the greenest English region. As well as a disproportionate number of green jobs we should aspire to have the: freshest air, finest beaches, most extensive tree cover (both urban and rural), purest water, best insulated homes, greenest electricity, cleanest rivers and streets, richest biodiversity, darkest night skies, longest cycle routes and footpaths … the list can go on.
Add this all up and you have the best place to live in England, attracting new businesses, giving our young people opportunities to thrive, drawing in visitors and tourists from home and abroad, creating a booming economy delivering good quality jobs and the greenest English region, all on the back of a green industrial revolution.
Build more homes
Work with the LEP to deliver more better jobs
Anything we once made from oil we can now make from wood
The rural part of North of Tyne is a huge asset