A NEW £395m growth deal for the Scottish Borders and wider Borderlands region has been signed today.

Representatives from the UK Government, the Scottish Government and five councils that represent the region were in Peebles on Monday to sign the Heads of Terms for investment of the Borderlands Inclusive Growth Deal.

The deal is seeking to attract tourists to the area and boost business, and is the result of collaboration between the Westminster and Holyrood Governments and local authorities in the region.

It is hoped that the investment will create more than 5,500 jobs within the Borderlands region.

Infrastructure Secretary Michael Matheson said: “I am delighted we have reached this important milestone in signing Heads of Terms for the Borderlands Deal.

“Successful delivery of the deal will create jobs, protect existing ones and extend the benefits of economic growth to even more communities across Scotland.

“Alongside the establishment of a new enterprise agency for the south of Scotland, and activities of the South of Scotland Economic Partnership, the Scottish Government’s £85 million investment will deliver significant and lasting benefits right across the region.

A full cross border feasibility study in to bringing the Borders Railway to Hawick, Newcastleton and on to Carlisle also forms part of the deal.

Transport agencies either side of the Border will work on a cross-border study for the A1 corridor as well as exploring an integrated transport system.

The package of investment will also include broadband and mobile signal investment designed to bring the region up to UK wide levels of connectivity and a Borderlands Energy Investment Company to generate cheaper energy for the region and help the Borderlands become the first carbon neutral region in the UK.

A £19 million Mountain Bike Innovation Centre in the Tweed Valley aims to establish a world-class destination for research, development and tourism around mountain biking.

John Lamont, MP for Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk, said: “This is fantastic news for the Borders – this deal is packed full of projects which will boost the Borders economy.

“For too long, the Border at Berwick has been viewed as this line which prevents collaboration.

“It is great to see this deal ignoring this Border and looking at how the whole region can be better served, and the economy better supported.

“Every penny of this £395 million investment is set to benefit the whole Borderlands region by bringing in thousands of jobs, millions more visitors and improving connectivity.

“I am particularly pleased that the Borders Railway extension will receive this £10 million boost for a full study into how we can bring the line to Hawick, Newcastleton and on to Carlisle.

“Less tangible but equally important is the investment in broadband, tourism, business and energy which the whole of the Borders is set to benefit from.”

Scottish Secretary David Mundell said:

“It’s fantastic news that the UK Government is to invest up to £265 million in the Borderlands Deal.

“This is an ambitious approach to cross-border working between Governments, local authorities and partners which will boost economic growth by helping existing business, encouraging new ventures and bringing a wealth of improvements to people who live and work in the area and to visitors.

“The Borderlands Deal has made huge progress in the last 18 months.

“I'd like to thank the five ‎local authorities who have worked so well together, along with the UK and Scottish governments, to achieve this.

“The south of Scotland and northernmost parts of England operate as a single economic area and it is important the border is not allowed to become an obstacle to development.

South Scotland Labour MSP and Scottish Labour’s Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Infrastructure, Connectivity and Transport, Colin Smyth, has welcomed the news but warned that the Borderlands deal will not provide a quick fix for the challenges facing the region.

He said: “Having been involved in the Borderlands since the beginning, I’m pleased to see this deal finally agreed as it has been a long time coming.

“The five local councils deserve enormous praise for developing the projects and getting to this stage, given that many people predicted it would be impossible to bring councils from across the border together in this way.

“Everyone now needs to get on with delivering the projects.

“This will not be a panacea for the region’s massive economic challenges.

“It works out at around £15m a year over ten years for the whole of the south of Scotland which is quite modest.

“However, it will bring some badly needed investment into projects that could make a real difference to the local economy.”