£100m boost for enterprise zones

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles
Communities Secretary Eric Pickles
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YORKSHIRE will have the chance to secure a share of a new £100m fund designed to help unlock the potential of enterprise zones.

The Government is launching the fund today to pay for work including road building and land clearance to help attract more businesses to enterprise zones which offer incentives to firms that invest in new operations in particular locations.

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles said: “Enterprise zones are at the centre of our plans to back business, help local economies grow stronger and give the UK that competitive edge.

“The zones are showing progress with over 180 businesses, half a billion pounds of private sector investment and nearly 4,000 jobs, and many more in the pipeline.”

“We want to help them grow further and faster and this extra £100m investment will ensure they have the infrastructure in place to successfully attract even more businesses and create many more local jobs.”

Enterprise zones are areas where businesses can receive benefits including reduced rates, simplified planning rules, access to higher broadband speeds and enhanced tax allowances to cover spending on new equipment. They are overseen by local enterprise partnerships (LEPs), organisations bringing groups of councils and business together to grow the economy.

Three of the four LEPs covering Yorkshire have established enterprise zones within the last two years.

They will be able to use the business rates paid by companies that locate in those areas to invest in other projects over the next 25 years.

The Humber is home to two enterprise zones spanning both banks, one of them the largest in the country.

They are a key component of ambitious plans to make the area a hub for green technology by attracting renewable energy equipment manufacturers.

Sites covered by the enterprise zones include Green Port Hull, which is earmarked for a new wind turbine assembly plant operated by engineering giant Siemens, although the company has yet to make the final investment decision.

Able UK is looking to develop a marine energy park on enterprise zone land on the south bank of the Humber and is waiting on planning approval from the Government.

Welcoming the new fund, group development director Neil Etherington said: “What we now need is a decision on our plans which will enable us to turn our ambitions into reality and grasp the once-in-a-generation opportunity to transform the economy of the Humber South Bank and the region as a whole.”

The Leeds City Region Local Enterprise Partnership has designated land in the Aire Valley as an enterprise zone and last year Watershed Packaging announced plans to build a new manufacturing facility in the area.

There are also ambitions to create a health-focused business park in the Aire Valley.

A collection of pieces of land along the M1 corridor make up the Sheffield City Region enterprise zone. It has arguably been the most successful so far, attracting 15 new businesses and creating more than 200 jobs as well as being the site for a new Rolls-Royce facility which is due to start production next year.

Doncaster Council recently floated the idea of creating a new enterprise zone on land close to Robin Hood Airport.

Critics of enterprise zones argue that they sometimes reward companies for decisions they would have made anyway or attract businesses to move from one area to another rather than generating genuinely new jobs.

james.reed@ypn.co.uk