EMPLOYMENT opportunities linked to leisure and tourism at Kielder Water and Forest Park have increased by a third in the last three years.

The growth in jobs from 43 to 65 has won operator, Northumbrian Water, praise from Hexham’s MP, Guy Opperman.

Kielder Reservoir was opened by the Queen in 1982 as the focal point of a region-wide water supply network.

However, as well as running the reservoir, Northumbrian Water now also operates Landal Kielder Waterside, one of the UK’s leading tourist accommodation sites.

The company is a partner in the Kielder Water and Forest Park Development Trust, which continues to develop activities and facilities in the wider local area for the benefit of visitors, wildlife and the local economy.

The wider trust area now supports 471 jobs, directly and indirectly, and the economic benefit to the area has increased from £7.4m to more than £25m in five years.

Guy Opperman MP said: “As well as being able to get away from technology and out into the stunning surroundings, Kielder Water and Forest Park is home to one of the finest mountain biking destinations in England, the country’s largest Dark Skies Park with all the wonders that this brings, and it hosts a wide range of activities on Northern Europe’s largest man made lake.”

“All of this has also contributed to the area economically, not least in terms of jobs. It was fantastic to meet some of those who have found employment with Northumbrian Water on a recent visit to the area, and to find out about what it has meant to their lives.

David Hall, Northumbrian Water’s Head of Commercial Strategy and Transformation, added: “Kielder Water & Forest Park is a fantastic leisure resource that has grown to become one of the UK’s best loved tourist destinations, drawing people from near and far. This has been great, in terms of jobs, creating employment for people who live in the area and also drawing talent from further afield.

“The appeal of the site has even allowed us to bring Landal to Kielder, adding the weight of one of Europe’s leading holiday providers and making us an even bigger name in the tourism world. This has helped us go from strength to strength, supporting the local economy and the people who live here, which is fantastic.”