HUNDREDS of millions of pounds will be pumped into southern Scotland and northern England as part of a “Borderlands growth deal”. 

Scottish and UK ministers will sign the agreement at a virtual ceremony today alongside the five councils which make up the Borderlands Partnership.

The move is expected to secure up to £452 million of fresh investment and represents the first cross-Border growth deal negotiated by the UK and Scottish governments.

Similar schemes have secured extra cash for cities and regions across the country.

A £100m investment was signed off for Orkney, Shetland and the Outer Hebrides yesterday.

The Borderlands deal will include work to assess the possibility of extending the Borders Railway to Carlisle. 

A Mountain Biking Innovation Centre in the Borders and funding to develop the former Chapelcross nuclear site in Dumfries and Galloway are also included in plans. The deal aims to deliver up to 5,500 jobs.

Michael Matheson, the Scottish Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity Secretary, said: “I am pleased to be signing the Borderlands growth deal, confirming that the Scottish Government will invest £85m in the region over the next 10 years that will build strategically on the region’s natural assets, resources and entrepreneurial spirit to drive sustainable economic growth.

“Projects the Scottish Government is supporting through the deal will focus on reinvigorating town centres, expanding business sites and premises to stimulate business growth and job creation, maximising the region’s appeal as a leading outdoor and adventure tourism destination, and equipping people with the skills they need to forge successful careers and contribute to their communities.

“The deal is focused on local people and local priorities, enabling the Borderlands area to create sustainable jobs, reinvigorate the economy, and build strategically for long-term growth and prosperity.”

Scotland Minister Iain Stewart MP said the benefits of the UK Government’s £265m investment in the deal “will be felt by communities across the whole of the Borderlands region and beyond”. 

He said: “Exciting projects like the Mountain Bike Innovation Centre and a Dairy Innovation Centre in Dumfries, Dairy Nexus, will build on regional strengths to create jobs and prosperity, while improvements to digital and transport infrastructure will ensure that we build back better from the pandemic.

“Across Scotland we have committed more than £1.5 billion to city region and growth deals.”

Councillor John Mallinson, leader of Carlisle City Council and co-chair of the Borderlands Partnership Board, said: “It’s fantastic to announce the signing of the Borderlands inclusive growth deal bringing fresh investment from government of up to £350m to our region, alongside local contributions of over £100m.

“The deal is an ambitious approach to cross-Border working between governments, local authorities and other partners which will boost economic growth by helping existing business, encouraging new ventures and bringing a wealth of improvements to our region.

“The deal will also provide crucial support to our region’s recovery from the Covid-19 emergency and ensure we set in place strong foundations on which to build back better and greener, delivering inclusive and sustainable growth.”

Fellow co-chair Councillor Mark Rowley, of Scottish Borders Council, said the deal will have “a transformational impact on the whole region”.

The agreement signed off for Orkney, Shetland and the Outer Hebrides will see an investment of £50m each from the Scottish and UK governments and an anticipated £235m from project partners. It aims to create up to 1,300 jobs and help tackle widespread depopulation concerns.

Mr Matheson said projects would focus on “retaining and attracting young people in our island communities, encouraging new visitors, boosting innovation and skills, growing key sectors like food and drink and the creative industries, and building the infrastructure and expertise needed to capitalise on renewable energy opportunities”.