A multi-million pound project to protect jobs and support the River Tyne-based economy is set to go ahead after provisional funding was confirmed by government.
The announcement, which is expected to bring just over £19.4m to the North East, follows a Levelling Up Fund (LUF) bid submitted last August by Newcastle City Council.
Cllr Nick Kemp, Leader of Newcastle City Council, welcomed the funding saying: “This is fantastic news for our region and for our important Tyne-based industries.
“Ship-building is an iconic part of our industrial heritage associated with the River Tyne and today the area has evolved into a global hub for offshore renewable energy manufacturing.
“This investment will help to secure the long-term future of this sector, safeguarding thousands of jobs, helping to create new opportunities and supporting work being done to improve the river environment.
“I am delighted that this strategic project is now set to receive much-needed funding through the Levelling Up Fund.”
Industries based on the River Tyne generate £660m of benefits to the region annually and directly employ around 3,700 people, with a further estimated 110,000 local jobs indirectly supported by their economic activity.
The funding bid was backed by Newcastle East MP Nick Brown and the newly-created Tyne Task Force, convened by the North of Tyne Combined Authority (NTCA) to bring together local authorities and businesses to unlock jobs and growth potential.
The £19.4m investment from the Levelling Up Fund will be topped up with a further £6.6m match funding provided by the North East Local Enterprise Partnership and North of Tyne Combined Authority.
The investment will see the development of a restoration facility on the northern bank of the river, at Bill Point. This will involve the construction of a reservoir, built out from the riverbank, to hold sediment dredged from the riverbed.
As well as ensuring the berths on the banks of river can remain operational, this innovative technical solution will enable the safe deposit of dredged material containing elevated levels of heavy metals, avoiding the need to take these to a landfill site, which would be prohibitively expensive and environmentally damaging.
Along with other projects, this will help to sustain the use of the river and enable continued access to quays in order to support economic activities, unlock new jobs and meet the needs of the offshore energy sector.