Councillors in Angus are set to pave the way for key Tay Cities Deal project funding to be accelerated this week.
A full Angus Council on Thursday will see councillors discuss three upcoming projects – the Mercury drone scheme, the Centre of Agri Tech and Sustainable Innovation (Casi) and rural digital broadband – and approve their funding being fast-tracked.
Councillors have been asked to agree funding from “another source” while the Tay Cities Deal cash is delivered to allow work on the projects to begin.
Angus Council recently put aside £6 million from this year’s budget and officers recommend using some of that pot to plug the gap created by the delay.
The broadband project will get £307,000, the Mercury drone project will get £300,000 and Casi will get £175,000 if councillors approve.
A report to go before councillors this week highlights there is a risk the local authority will not be able to claw back the money if full business cases for the projects are not accepted by Holyrood and Westminster further down the road.
However, the risk of this happening has been assessed as low based on discussions with both governments.
The three projects have been prepared under Angus Council’s umbrella Mercury Programme.
The local authority hopes to increase green energy in the county to “protect places for future generations”.
Many of the Tay Cities Deal projects in Angus have been agreed with this goal in mind.
One of the first identified to help achieve this was the Drone project in Montrose. It is hoped it could benefit offshore wind developments off the Angus coast.
The town was chosen due to its relatively quiet airspace.
Casi could see Angus become an “area of research excellence”, according to the report councillors will discuss this week.
It could see innovations in farming developed to help curb greenhouse gases associated with the agricultural sector. A headquarters for the operation is planned for Forfar.
The digital broadband scheme could help those living in rural Angus experience faster internet connection speeds, something that has blighted the region.
Why was the final Tay Cities Deal signing delayed?
The crux of the issue centred around the UK government wanting to deliver the money over a 15 year period, as opposed to the Scottish government’s desire to do it in 10 years.
Fears arose the delay was putting some projects at risk. Westminster agreed to pay its share of the cash within a decade.
Other delays were created by the 2019 general election and the coronavirus pandemic.