EFFORTS are underway to rescue land-based education in Cumbria - just two weeks after college bosses announced the closure of Newton Rigg College in Penrith.

A group of interested parties are now working hard to deliver a viable business model in time to launch in September 2021.

Julia Aglionby, Executive Director of the Foundation for Common Land and Chair of the Cumbria Inquiry of the Food, Farming and Countryside Commission, told The Cumberland News: "There are two key components - healthy student numbers, and a viable business model. Cumbria is fortunate having a range of farms and spaces that can be used for delivering teaching. My view is our focus should with urgency be on developing viable delivery mechanisms not seeking to second guess the availability of any particular asset owned by Askham Bryan."

She added: "This new way model, let’s call it NewCo for now, will focus on the skills we need going forward. How can we improve the profitability of land based businesses while adapting to and addressing the climate emergency and biodiversity crisis? Education and learning for our land based sector has a positive future in Cumbria, support this by signing up to courses for September and be part of the shaping the new future."

Askham Bryan College in York claim they are closing Newton Rigg in September 2021 with a loss of 117 jobs, because it is no longer 'financially viable'.

Julie Mennell, CLEP Board Member and Vice Chancellor of the University of Cumbria, said: “As the anchor HE Institution in Cumbria we want to step forward and work with partners to develop a strategy for land-based provision in Cumbria. We in the University will provide leadership to support this aim, in collaboration with CLEP’s People, Employment and Skills Strategy Group (PESSG). The need for pace is understood as is the significance of addressing the long-term future of the land-based provision in our county.”

Eden District Council leader,Virginia Taylor, said it would be impossible for many students to travel to the nearest colleges outside of the county, so many would have to sacrifice their education. "The Council is totally committed to working with partners throughout the county to develop a Cumbrian solution which can retain the best of the Newton Rigg tradition, including the talented and experienced staff. Innovative solutions need to provide for the traditional and future skills needed in agriculture and land-based technologies, for higher-skilled jobs in emerging new technologies, and for vocational education no longer provided in Eden following the regrettable closure of Appleby Heritage Centre.”

EDC's Deputy leader, CLEP Board Member and Chair of the Rural Sector Panel, Mary Robinson, said “Going forward we need to preserve the essence and heritage at Newton Rigg, whilst at the same time responding to the new opportunities in agri-tech and wider new technologies.”