Bid for new centre

Top level discussions are underway with the Government over the possibility of a new national agri-tech centre on the Nene Waterway in Wisbech to provide cutting edge scientific research into farming techniques.

The news revealed this week by local MP Steve Barclay, follows meetings with the Prime Minister’s Advisor on Life Sciences, Norfolk MP George Freeman, to discuss the bid.

The government has earmarked new funding for a national agri-tech centre to conduct field trials into new farm techniques for use both in the UK and overseas. The joint bid backed by Cambs County Council and Fenland District Council, is the first application of its kind to be submitted to government. County Council leader Nick Clarke and District Council Leader Alan Melton co-signed a joint letter with Mr Barclay setting out their case to Ministers.

Mr Barclay said: “An agri-tech centre would be an ideal anchor tenant for the Wisbech 2020 regeneration scheme. It would fit well with the £12 million engineering faculty at the College of West Anglia Wisbech campus, take advantage of our location at the heart of the Fens farming region, and be in close proximity to the existing life science centres of Norwich and Cambridge. It is the perfect location for scientists to be based when conducting field trials and farmers locally are already working innovatively through new GPS farm tracking and drilling and soil moisture techniques”.

Mr Barclay is due to meet with officials in the Business Innovation and Skills Department to discuss the next steps.

“The brown field site adjacent to Wisbech port has already been earmarked for new development and I am calling upon the government to carry out a feasibility study to establish its suitability for the centre”.