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Work begins on vital infrastructure

Work is under way to create the infrastructure to support a world-leading agri-tech research and innovation hub on the edge of Newport, ultimately supporting the creation of up to 950 jobs.

Ni-Park is a key element of the Newport Innovation and Enterprise Package which secured £6.36 million from the Marches Local Enterprise Partnership under the Local Growth Fund, matched by investment from Telford & Wrekin Council. Works at Ni-Park are being delivered by infrastructure group Balfour Beatty.

The continued development of Harper Adams University, with its successful agri-tech research programme and Agri-Engineering and Precision Farming Centre for Innovation, has created an opportunity to bring high value jobs to Newport through the creation of a cluster of high-tech businesses on the new innovation site.

It will also strengthen supply chain opportunities and growth of a key sector providing economic benefits across the whole borough.  The site was identified by the Government’s Department for International Trade as an international focus for new foreign inward investment.

The development is supported by Telford & Wrekin Council, the Marches Local Enterprise Partnership and Harper Adams University.

The project has begun with highway works on the A518 which are expected to last until December 2020.  It will mean a 30mph limit will be in place on the A518 past the site for the duration of the construction.

Councillor Lee Carter, Telford & Wrekin Council’s cabinet member for the Borough Economy, said: “Ni-Park is set to put Telford and the UK at the forefront of high efficiency agriculture and I am delighted that work is beginning. It will bring together agricultural and technical companies enabling industry experts to collaborate on and commercialise new technologies.

“Ni-Park will pioneer an epicenter of global intelligence, drive growth and support innovation to help farmers and businesses achieve sustainable productivity in agriculture and farming.”

Mandy Thorn, chair of the Marches Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “Ni-Park is a LEP supported project which will really put our region on the map. Not only is it a flagship development in the agri-tech sector nationally, it has tangible benefits for our businesses and our regional economic growth. We are committed to funding schemes that deliver the creation of sustainable jobs and this investment will do exactly that.”

Dr David Llewellyn, vice-chancellor of Harper Adams University, said: “We will be supporting the local authority to create an ecosystem for agri-tech innovation at Ni-Park that will build upon ground-breaking research conducted by the university. 

“This includes the world-leading Hands Free Hectare experiment, which has now been extended to a farm-scale project that will run for the next three years and the recent launch of our Global Institute for Agri-Tech Economics, which is improving our understanding of new food production methods. There is considerable interest worldwide in improving productivity in the various ways in which we provide our food. 

“This collaboration will enable industry and academia to find the right solutions to not only develop future food production systems, but also to find ways in which those systems can protect our natural resources, improve biodiversity and help us all in the challenge of tackling climate change.”

Jon Kiteley, Balfour Beatty’s area director for north and Midlands, said: “Our team of expert engineers are perfectly positioned to deliver this scheme which will enable the development of a new employment area for the local community. We will also utilise a local supply chain throughout construction to support the local economy in Newport.”


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