East Devon economy bouncing back from Covid


East Devon Skypark - Credit: East Devon District Council

East Devon is showing strong signs of a green economic recovery after the pandemic.

Covid has brought acknowledgement of the link between health and outside spaces. East Devon District Council is pushing clean growth to reduce carbon emissions to provide a greener, healthier place to live and work.

Cllr Paul Hayward, Deputy Leader and Portfolio Holder for Economy at East Devon District Council, said: "During the first half of 2020, and as a result of Covid-19, East Devon lost more than 1,000 jobs, including the collapse of Flybe. Many of these jobs were high value and skilled roles but jobs were also lost in the lower-paid sectors of our economy. These job losses had a profound effect on our residents, on our towns and villages and on our entire district economy"

To increase levels and quality of employment and wage levels across East Devon, over 500k sq ft of employment space is currently either under construction or being refurbished across East Devon.

At Skypark, a new development of 35 industrial units is being built. The site also offers solar PV and EV charging points, covered bicycle storage and insulated panel technology. Skypark is also home to E.ON Energy's district heating centre which supplies heating to Skypark and Cranbrook.

Councillor Rufus Gilbert, Cabinet Member for Economic Recovery and Skills for Devon County Council, said: "It's good to see that not only is excellent progress being made in building back the economy in East Devon but that it's also focussing on sustainability and green recovery. Our ambition is for Devon to be a leader in the green economy as we look towards the county emerging from the pandemic stronger and more resilient than before"

Looking back to spring 2020, the loss of Flybe and associated jobs in suppliers had a huge impact on the economy. Local families were suddenly without the livelihoods on which they depended. A package of support offered a lifeline to families at a time when new employment opportunities were hard to find, as the South West reportedly faced the ‘worst economic shock for 100 years.

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By the autumn of the same year, Dublin Aerospace had established its first overseas subsidiary business, Exeter Aerospace, agreed to take over much of the Flybe equipment at Exeter Airport.

Exeter Aerospace provide the perfect location for maintaining aircraft for Loganair, which has picked up many of the Flybe domestic routes including Belfast, Edinburgh, Manchester, Norwich and Jersey. 

Devon County Council has invested almost £4 million into Exeter College’s new Future Skills Centre, which provides training facilities for high-tech jobs in engineering digital, construction and clean growth.  

Rob Bosworth, Deputy CEO of Exeter College, said: "The Future Skills Centre is thriving and has the potential to go even further now the aviation sector is building back stronger and smarter. We have installed electrification training bays, purchased new aviation engineering systems, invested in a brand new cabin trainer and are about to make a significant investment in immersive technology to aid the skills requirements of local employers"

Exeter Science Park is also home to a new £5 million "George Parker Bidder building" which will house up to 100 jobs in Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths and Medicine sectors, the Ada Lovelace building has also been awarded the Sustainability Award in the South West Property Awards.