Humber region wins ‘Enterprise Zone’ status

The redevelopment of Alexandra Dock as Green Port Hull will accommodate one of four original equipment manufacturers in the Humber region expected to be operational by April 2015. The redevelopment of Alexandra Dock as Green Port Hull will accommodate one of four original equipment manufacturers in the Humber region expected to be operational by April 2015.

The UK’s Humber region was awarded ‘enterprise zone’ status on Wednesday, creating significant financial incentives for new renewable energy businesses.

The government decision was based on a bid submitted by the Humber Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), which focused on attracting large top tier manufacturing companies in the renewable energy sector, with a view to creating further economic benefit and innovation in the associated supply chain.

New companies locating in enterprise zones are offered tax breaks funded by the Government including discounted business rates and enhanced capital allowances on plant and machinery, as well as a simplified planning process and super-fast broadband.

The Humber LEP believes that capital allowances would be particularly attractive to large manufacturers that would invest significant amounts on high-tech machinery, helping to give the Humber a competitive edge.

As part of the enterprise zone package from Government, the Humber LEP would receive any business rates paid by the companies above the level that is currently collected from the sites, rather than it going to the Government.

This would give the Humber LEP a long term income stream, which the board has said will be invested in skills and infrastructure to help spread the benefits of the enterprise zone throughout the Humber and further grow the economy.

The sites identified for development in the bid are Green Port Hull (Alexandra Dock) – 1 OEM; Queen Elizabeth Dock, Hull – 1 OEM; and Able Marine Energy Park (southern part), North Lincolnshire – 2 OEMs. Many of the remaining sites considered by the LEP will be targeted at the supply chains of these OEMs, which will want to locate nearby. This strategy will mean jobs are created on sites around the Humber, not just in the enterprise zone.

The Humber LEP board considered more than 800 hectares of land for the bid that was suitable for renewables manufacturing and could accommodate at least six original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and their supply chains, but narrowed it down to 375 hectares to accommodate only four OEMs. The board felt that this was a realistic approach, being the maximum number of OEMs that were likely to be operational by April 2015, the cut-off date for companies entering the zones to receive the financial incentives.

Although still larger than the 150 hectare maximum suggested by the government, the board agreed that it would make a strong bid because by encompassing only four companies, the cost to government would be relatively small.

Mark O’Reilly, director and renewables sector champion at the influential industry membership group, Team Humber Marine Alliance, said that the benefits to the region would be far reaching.

“Over the last two years we have seen unprecedented collaboration to make the Humber region a UK leader in the renewable energy sector. The news that we now have enterprise zone status is testament to this collective effort and will give us the extra boost needed to attract further investment.”

Professor Stephanie Haywood, director of the University of Hull’s Centre for Adaptive Science & Sustainability, which brings together the University’s expertise in renewable energy said, “This is excellent news and will enable a Humber-wide strategy for renewable energy and hence give both the University and local industry the opportunity to have greater impact on the sector nationally and internationally.”

Carolyn Burgess, a spokesperson for Hull & East Yorkshire Bondholders, a 140 strong group of businesses which work together to promote the area, added, “Hull and East Yorkshire already has a large skills base in advanced engineering, employing more than 12,500 people in industries such as marine engineering and in the offshore environment, in addition to specialist training courses and expertise at Hull College and the University of Hull.

“We already have the benefit of low operating costs in this region which is on average 20% lower than elsewhere in the UK, and we are seeing major investment by ABP and Able UK in our ports infrastructure to maintain our position as the busiest ports complex in the UK and the fifth busiest in Europe.

“Add to this the enterprise zone status and our region is an even more attractive proposition to potential investors.”

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