Scottish 'seaweed academy' to help UK farming move to net zero

Funding for the academy is part of government drive to invest in people, boost skills and support local businesses across the country

A “seaweed academy” to teach people how to farm the mineral-rich plant will receive a share of more than £200 million ($273m) which is being spent on about 500 projects across the UK, as part of the government’s plans to “level up” the country and curb carbon emissions.

The UK Community Renewal Fund was announced earlier this year to replace EU structural funding after Brexit.

The district of Argyll and Bute will receive £407,000 from the fund to build the academy and is one of 56 projects across Scotland earmarked to receive funding totalling £18 million.

Hopes are that training and education in seaweed farming will help regional growth in an industry that will play an important role in the country’s net-zero ambitions.

Situated on the north-western coast of Scotland, the district of Argyll and Bute received funding for seven other projects, including one to optimise carbon sequestration and another to develop a curriculum for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) hub projects.

Dumfries and Galloway in south-west Scotland will receive nearly £1m to develop an investment-ready plan for a carbon-neutral “21st Century Village”, with 470 smart, adaptable new homes.

UK minister Michael Gove said the projects receiving cash from the fund would make a “real difference” right across the country.

“We are levelling up in every corner of the United Kingdom, backing locally-led projects that will make a real difference to communities and help to deliver our net zero commitments,” said Mr Gove, who was appointed as Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities in September.

“There is incredible talent spread right across our great country and this investment will unlock the opportunities to match.”

Other projects in Scotland include a street performance and culture festival in Aberdeen, the country’s third-largest city, which will receive £306,000, and a similar amount has been earmarked to provide skills training to 16 to 24-year-olds in Inverclyde, one of Scotland’s most deprived areas, to help them secure employment.

Secretary of State for Scotland Alister Jack said it was “great to see” the UK government’s efforts “continue at pace.”

“Combined with the money announced at the Budget and our region deals funding, the UK government is investing more than £1.7 billion into Scottish projects — levelling up communities by working in partnership with local organisations to build on regional strengths”, said Mr Jack.

More than £800,000 will be used to create 40 online training centres in north-east England to improve digital skills, and nearly £500,000 will be spent helping companies in north-west England develop low-carbon products.

Other major funding announcements include £426,000 to help small businesses in Armagh City in Northern Ireland reduce their carbon footprints, while the port town of Grimsby in north-east England will receive £434,000 to modernise.

Updated: November 4th 2021, 12:02 PM