Government cash boost heightens chances of Fenland being chosen for an agricultural research centre

MP Steve Barclay

MP Steve Barclay - Credit: Archant

A GOVERNMENT cash boost has heightened the chances of Fenland being chosen for an agricultural research centre.

The Greater Cambridge Greater Peterborough Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and partners have been allocated £3.2m of Regional Growth Funding to launch the Eastern England Agric-Tech Growth Initiative.

MP Steve Barclay who has campaigned for the research centre said the initiative “will provide a significant boost to the food production and research cluster by investing in business assistance, skills development, and the commercialisation of research and development.”

The NE Cambs MP added: “The money will be spent across the region but will prove a boost to plans for an agric-tech centre in Fenland by further developing the East of England as a hub for the technology.”

He had discussed with ministers “how we reduce the demand for low skilled migrant labour through accelerating the use of robotics in the food supply chain, and this funding assists in moving this forward”.

Mr Barclay said: “Whilst the grant does not of itself mean that Fenland will be the location for an agric tech centre, it ensures the Cambridge- Norwich corridor is strengthened as the national centre for research into food production and field science.

“Given Fenland’s key agricultural location within that region it creates an exciting foundation within the Cambridge-Norwich corridor from which the local council, county council, LEP and I as MP can build.

Most Read

“This funding is a big step forward, but there are further steps to take.”

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg confirmed that the bid was one of 17 programmes across East and South East England which had won a slice of £60million investment.

Options for the centre include both the Nene waterfront in Wisbech and also the site off the A141 at March previously earmarked for a new College of West Anglia.

Earlier this year Mr Barclay tabled a parliamentary question to David Willets, Minister for Universities and Science, setting out the business case for locating in Fenland.