A PLANNED massive expansion of Durham Tees Valley airport is among the region’s bids for government regeneration cash.

The £5.9m scheme would create 1,500 jobs with a freight and logistics operation at the ailing airport, which has seen passenger numbers collapse in recent years. The expansion would take about ten years to complete.

New roads and improved transport services will be built on 150 acres of land south of the airport runway.

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The Northern Echo understands the land is within the Stockton Borough Council area and that it already has planning consent for aviationrelated development.

Peter Nears, the strategic planning director for airport owner Peel Group, said: “This is a very significant project, not just for the airport, but the area as a whole.”

It has the backing of Tees Valley Unlimited Local Enterprise Partnership, the Homes and Communities Agency, together with Stockton and Darlington borough councils.

“While there are a wide range of possibilities for attracting businesses related to aviation activities, we expect that a key element in the development will be logistics services, given the proximity to the A66, leading to the A1 and the national motorway network,” Mr Nears added.

The scheme is vying with bidders from across the UK for a share of a £1bn fund set up to create jobs in areas hit hardest by public sector cuts.

The bids include proposals to establish a £40m Tees Valley Business Loan Fund to support small companies that have been refused loans by high street lenders. It would back about 500 businesses and create or safeguard 3,000 jobs across the region.

A bid for £3.8m to develop the region’s petrochemical industry said it would attract £1bn of private sector investment and potentially create 2,000 jobs in the coming years.

An application has been made to help young people take their first step into the world of work.

The fund is expected to be massively oversubscribed with only one-in-four bids set to receive a payout. But the Tees Valley has a strong track record from previous bidding rounds and enterprise chiefs are hopeful that the Government will back the latest plans. Winners are announced in the autumn.

The North East Local Enterprise Partnership, which covers County Durham, Tyneside and Wearside, last night confirmed it was backing bids to the fund from a “healthy number” of private and public sector applicants.