Renewable energy amongst the winners as government announces 11 new Enterprise Zones
Areas of England vying to become hubs for renewable energy and low carbon industries were yesterday given a boost when the government announced a second wave of Enterprise Zones.
The Humber Estuary "Renewable Energy Super Cluster", as well as Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft, in Suffolk, were among the 11 new Enterprise Zones announced by Prime Minister David Cameron, Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne, and Communities Secretary, Eric Pickles.
There will be no up-front cash to support businesses in the zones, but ministers hope a series of incentives will attract start ups. For example, they will benefit from up to £150m in tax breaks and more relaxed planning controls than other areas of the country.
The zones are designed to replace a network of Regional Development Agencies that are being phased out as part of the coalition's "bonfire of the quangos".
"Too many of our towns and cities have been left behind, but the answer has never been to impose ineffective sprawling regional structures," said Pickles. "This Government's job is to foster local enterprise and create the conditions for businesses to thrive in."
A Department of Energy and Climate Change spokesman welcomed the new zones' clear focus on supporting renewable energy.
"We are pleased to see the announcement of successful Enterprise Zones with a focus on renewables, including the Humber, New Anglia and the Solent, and look forward to seeing them drive growth and job creation in this expanding sector," he said.
The Humber Enterprise Zone, Kingston upon Hull, is the largest to be announced by the government to date, and has the shortest sailing times of any location to the huge Round 3 offshore wind zones off the east coast.
The Humber LEP aims to attract large top tier manufacturing companies in the renewable energy sector, having already received an indication from wind turbine manufacturer Siemens that it will locate a new facility in Hull.
Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft Enterprise Zone, led by the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership, also got the green light. It will take in six sites close to the ports that support the North Sea energy sector, including offshore wind farms.
Meanwhile, the North Eastern Enterprise Zone is focusing exclusivly on low carbon technologies, hoping to create nearly 1,000 jobs by 2015. That zone takes in the Ultra Low Carbon Vehicle sites in Sunderland and the Neptune Yard in Newcastle where Clipper is building the giant 10MW Britannia wind turbine.
Trade body RenewableUK welcomed the news as "a huge vote of confidence" in the ability of the offshore wind industry to create jobs and wealth for the UK.
"Our most recent study on the employment potential of the sector shows that approximately 15,000 direct offshore wind manufacturing and design jobs can be created by 2020 on the back of a healthy deployment of offshore wind in UK waters," a spokesman said. "This announcement can go a long way to ensure this happens."
The news means there are now a total 22 Enterprise Zones set to benefit from superfast broadband, tax breaks, and other business incentives. The Government named the first 11 zones in the Spring, in cities including Manchester, Birmingham and Newcastle.
Other new zones with focus on low carbon technology or renewable energies announced yesterday include Rotherwas in Hereford, Northampton Waterside, the Discovery Park in Sandwich and West Essex, Science Vale Enterprise Zone led by the Oxfordshire local enterprise partnership, and Tees Valley Enterprise Zone.
So far, the new Enterprise Zones are all in England, but the government has said it is keen to launch similar zones in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. It said it plans to hold further discussions with the Devolved Administrations about how best to do this in the near future.
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