A £200 million Tay Cities Deal funding boost could spark a bright future for St Andrews University’s green energy centre.
The university is poised to press ahead with ambitious plans to create 500 new jobs at its Eden Campus at Guardbridge once it has secured vital Tay Cities Deal cash.
The Courier revealed on Thursday that the SNP Government would pump at least £200m into the investment package.
Infrastructure secretary Michael Mathesonhas urged Chancellor Philip Hammond to match the funding when he makes his budget statement on Monday.
The university has bid for £30m to further redevelop the site of the former paper mill at Guardbridge, locating new industry alongside academic expertise.
It is predicted the funding could unlock a further £75m in inward investment within five years.
The university has already invested £25m in the award-winning energy centre at the Eden Campus which pumps hot water four miles to St Andrews to heat university buildings.
Further money is transforming parts of the old paper mill into state-of-the-art office space for 450 university staff.
University quaestor and factor Derek Watson said: “The commitment from the Scottish Government is great news for the university, for the local and Fife community and for Scotland as a whole.
“We look forward to the announcement from the UK Government.”
Mr Watson said the funding would breathe new life into the Eden Campus while creating hundreds of new jobs.
The Tay Cities Deal will fund economy-boosting projects across the region over the next 10 to 15 years and could be worth 15,000 jobs.
The Scottish Government’s funding announcement has been welcomed by Tim Allan, president of Scottish Chambers of Commerce, who backed calls for Mr Hammond to match the figure.
“It is critical the Chancellor rises to the challenge with pace and puts business and enterprise at the heart of his budget,” he said.
Scottish Conservative MPs Kirstene Hair and Luke Graham said it could be an opportunity to improve rural broadband.
They said rural parts of the region did not have sufficient broadband speeds and called for funding for improvements as part of the deal.
Ms Hair, MP for Angus, said a decent broadband connection was a necessity for both personal and business use.
“I cannot overestimate the economic boost which would come to the area with the correct broadband infrastructure in place,” she said.
Mr Graham, Ochil and South Perthshire MP, said there was a risk of rural communities being put at a disadvantage unless speeds were increased.