Rural Growth Deal - questions and answers

Argyll and Bute’s Rural Growth Deal (RGD) is about turning economic potential into a successful future for Argyll and Bute.

Argyll and Bute Council, with strong backing from the public and support from partner organisations, secured a deal that will bring transformational investment to Argyll and Bute from the UK and Scottish Governments.

Here are answers to some questions you may have about this.

Q: What does the deal give the area money for?

A: Funding given through deals has to deliver results for UK and Scottish Government aims as well as for the local area. It’s not about filling funding gaps for example in council services. It’s about delivering economic growth.

You can read here about the areas for investment, agreed with the UK and Scottish Governments.

Q: How did you decide on the projects that get funding?

A: With extensive in-put from local communities and partner organisations, we put together a list of proposals based on achieving three things:

  • Connecting: our high value business sectors with national and international business markets; our local economic successes with national strategic priorities
  • Attracting: additional skills, training and learning opportunities; new residents, visitors and businesses
  • Growing: doing more of what works; making more of our natural and built resources.

These proposals were a starting point for our discussions with the UK and Scottish Governments.

The projects agreed with both Governments will support the economy in Argyll and Bute, and also the Scottish and wider UK economies. As public funding is being invested from across the UK, the benefits achieved from it must extend across the UK too, as well as driving forward the economy of Argyll and Bute specifically.

Q: Which areas in Argyll and Bute will get investment?

A: The deal is designed to bring benefits across the whole of Argyll and Bute in one way or another. For example, developing the area as a ‘must visit’ destination for marine tourism will help attract tourism business to our island and coastal communities. Developing training opportunities to match local skills to local economy needs will benefit our whole rural economy.

More specifically, developing our aquaculture and marine science industry will bring investment to MAKI and OLI. Investing to help local suppliers get involved in the MOD’s Maritime Change Programme will benefit Helensburgh and Lomond. There are also proposals for a new STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) hub and improved education and learning facilities in Bute and Cowal.

Q: What’s the timescale for these projects being delivered?

A: Work to progress the individual projects will start once the business cases are agreed. The timescale for this is expected to be 1-2 years and will vary for each project. Timescales for delivering individual projects will of course depend on the complexity of each project however the Rural Growth Deal programme is expected to be delivered over a 10-15 year period. Further detail will be available once the business cases and so the details of each project are agreed.

Q: One of the projects is about building new housing – where will that happen?

A: Housing will be built in areas of highest demand. We are developing business cases just now for all the projects. Details about where will be agreed with the UK and Scottish Governments once these business cases are agreed. We expect them to be ready for discussion in approximately 1-2 years.

Q: Why is the low carbon economy project focused on Islay?

A: Islay is an ideal pilot area given its rurality and complex energy requirements (due to the energy intensive demands of the local distilling sector).  The Island also has extensive potential for offshore wind and tidal renewable energy generation.  It is hoped that successful pilot projects will be scalable and transferable to other rural communities across Scotland and the wider UK.

Q: What partner organisations are involved in the Deal?

A: The deal brings together local and national organisations, as well as public and private sector agencies, to transform Argyll and Bute’s economy for local and national benefit.

Key delivery partners include Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Scottish Enterprise, Skills Development Scotland, Argyll College UHI, SAMS, Stirling University, The Scottish Futures Trust and the Ministry of Defence. Other partners are also likely to emerge as business cases are developed further.