College Connect: November 2022 Devolution and BioYorkshire

Welcome to College Connect, a blog by our Team at Askham Bryan College. Tune in and read about the college’s activity and engagement with our partnerships, projects, and community involvement.  

Principal and CEO Tim Whitaker shares his thoughts about Askham Bryan College’s part in Yorkshire’s Devolution and role in BioYorkshire.

Over to you, Tim…

Devolution: the current buzzword in York and North Yorkshire. It is coming…but what is it, what does it mean for the region, when will it happen, and what does it specifically mean for Askham Bryan College? Plenty of questions, so let’s try and answer them.


To start, devolution is defined as the transfer or delegation of power to a lower level, especially by the central government to the local or regional administration.

So, home rule for Yorkshire! Great for a county that finished 18th in the most recent Tokyo 2020 Olympics medals table and something every true Yorkshire person would advocate. In all seriousness, it will herald a significant change. We will have a locally elected mayor who will hold considerable power and decision-making for the region. There will be a significant change in the region’s ability to direct funding at a much more informed local level. This will allow for better decisions made locally, and more targeted funding that will drive the productivity and prosperity of the region.

Devolution has been approved in principle by the North Yorkshire County Council, the City of York Council and the central government. It is currently out for a public consultation that closes on 16th December 2022 (link here – York and North Yorkshire devolution deal). Once this closes, the councils will submit a formal scheme to the government which is likely to result in a parliamentary order in the summer of 2023 and the election of our mayor in the spring of 2024.

Devolution will herald many changes with a significant long-term inward investment fund of over £500 million, driving better support for businesses and economic growth, improved integrated local transport, increased local control over adult skills training, more new and affordable homes, investment in the green economy, as well as better broadband and mobile infrastructure.


Part of the devolution proposal is a commitment to BioYorkshire – a unique partnership between Askham Bryan College, the University of York and FERA Science. Given recent events in our world, no one would argue that food and fuel security isn’t one of our country’s greatest strategic priorities and something we desperately need to improve. Equally, we all recognise that global warming is the greatest long-term threat to the world we know. The need to ensure we build and live in a sustainable environment is existential to humanity’s existence. BioYorkshire starts to address the ‘how’ questions related to food security, fuel supply and environmental conservation.

BioYorkshire will accelerate innovation and research discoveries into full-scale industry applications. The project will support net-zero food production, farming, and wider sustainable land use practices. The excitement is around a unique partnership never seen before, on the one hand, we have a Russell Group university delivering world-class research in plant and animal sciences, FERA Science a leading global centre protecting the environment for over 100 years through the application of knowledge and original thinking. And then there is us – Askham Bryan College, one of the only independent specialist land-based colleges in England, that delivers outstanding professional and technical education allowing the development of the skills needed to drive change.


The innovation and skills developed through BioYorkshire will help Yorkshire be the UK’s first carbon-negative region, as well as adding £1.4bn in Gross Value Added (GVA) to the UK economy and creating 4,000 jobs.

Devolution is coming, BioYorkshire is coming.

We desperately need to change the way we live and care for our world. But we need to be pragmatic about this. People will always need to eat food and heat their homes. We just need to do this better, by being more productive, demanding higher welfare standards and ensuring all this is done in a more sustainable way that preserves our world. In all honesty, both Devolution and BioYorkshire can’t come soon enough – It’s not for me, it’s for t’others.

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