NEWS of a potential £10 billion investment into the North East has been welcomed by politicians across both sides of the political divide.

On Monday (April 15), Northumberland County Council confirmed an agreement had been reached with American firm Blackstone and its data centre subsidiary QTS to take over the former Britishvolt site at Cambois near Blyth. The company aims to develop either a ‘hyperscale datacentre campus’ or an ‘AI Data Centre Campus’ on the site.

Yesterday, Northumberland County Council leader Glen Sanderson said the project would deliver 1,600 direct jobs. This figure included 1,200 “long-term construction jobs” and over 2,700 “indirect jobs” over the course of the development.

The site had previously been earmarked for the creation of a “gigafactory” building electric vehicle batteries. It was claimed this would bring 3,000 onsite jobs as well as 5,000 in the supply chain.

However, the project was beset by numerous complications over the years. While progress on the site has been welcomed, Labour leader Scott Dickinson said he was “disappointed” the battery factory would not be built despite welcoming the investment.

Cllr Dickinson said: “The Northumberland Labour Group welcomes any investments in Northumberland. While the failure of the gigafactory project and the subsequent job opportunities is disappointing, the new proposal shows promise in potentially creating over 1,500 jobs.

“This is a fresh opportunity for the site. Despite the lesser scale of job creation, it still presents a significant potential for employment.

“The group pledges unwavering support for all initiatives and is eagerly anticipating crucial milestones such as the submission and review of planning applications. Taking prompt action on these plans will bolster confidence in the site and its potential, fostering optimism and progress within the community.

“Numerous details and milestones need to be met to validate this proposal, but the group remains optimistic. Specifics regarding the nature of the “investment fund” and the identity of the Data Centre operator are pending.

“Efforts to attract individuals to the site and engage major tech companies are still underway, indicating there is much work yet to be done.”

Cllr Dickinson said Labour would work with the county council’s Conservative-led administration to ‘unlock potential’ on the site.

Elsewhere, Conservative MP Ian Levy was excited at the prospect of the scheme and felt it would put Northumberland” at the heart of the artificial intelligence revolution” with a “colossal AI campus”. The MP, who represents the Blyth Valley constituency, added that it was important for jobs created to go to local people.

Mr Levy said: “I have worked closely with the council and the Government at every stage to ensure the best possible outcome for the Blyth Estuary, South East Northumberland and the wider region. The initial construction jobs and then the longer-term jobs on the site will continue the transformation of our area and I will be doing everything I can to make sure that as many of these jobs as possible go to local people.

“The spin-offs for education and skills development will be outstanding. This is a great example of a Conservative council working with a Conservative Government to bring opportunity and transform an area and I am very proud to have been able to play a part in this.”

Northumberland County Council cabinet member Gordon Stewart, who represents the Prudhoe South ward, felt the proposals would have a benefit for the wider county rather than just the south east.

He said: “This is a historical day for the county with such well-known international businesses investing into its future jobs and facilities. This will not only have a beneficial impact upon Blyth and its close neighbours, but throughout the county in areas such as Tynedale where the supply chain and employment opportunities are huge.”