Enterprise zone may bring �200m boost for Waveney’s economy

AMBITIOUS plans were unveiled this week to attract millions of pounds of new investment and create thousands of new jobs in Waveney as part of a drive to kickstart the energy industry on the east coast.

MPs and business leaders from Suffolk and Norfolk have joined forces to support a bid to create a new enterprise zone, which they say would bring a �200m boost to the economy.

Backers believe the initiative could help create up to 10,000 new jobs over the next 20 years and lay the foundations for the creation of 200 new businesses centring on six key areas – the Ellough Business Park, near Beccles; the Powerpark/Riverside/Mobbs Way industrial area in Lowestoft; the South Lowestoft industrial estate at Gisleham; the outer harbour and South Denes in Great Yarmouth, and Beacon Park, Gorleston.

Christine Pinsent, chairman of Beccles Business Association, is highly supportive of the bid and said Waveney would benefit hugely.

“I’m really pleased that the extra business that would be generated in Ellough will benefit the whole area of Beccles, Bungay and Halesworth,” she said. “It will bring more people into this area and help the local economy. I think it’s very good and a great help for new businesses if we do get it.

“It will show growth and encourage people to visit this area and stay here.”

Launched by chancellor George Osborne, the proposed enterprise zones are part of the coalition government’s effort to deliver growth and new jobs, as well as re-balancing the economy away from an over-reliance on the public sector and the City of London. Businesses within the proposed zones would benefit from a reduction in business rates, a relaxation of planning rules to encourage development, and the roll-out of superfast broadband.

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The creation of the new zones would also draw in an estimated �200m of extra business rates income, which the government has said can be spent within the areas to encourage and support economic growth.

The bid is one of 30 vying to become one of the next wave of 10 new enterprise zones, with ministers due to make a decision by the autumn. In the meantime, MPs and business leaders will be busy lobbying to support the bid.

Details of the Energy for New Anglia bid were submitted to decentralisation minister Greg Clark by the New Anglia local enterprise partnership (LEP), and were released at a launch event in Lowestoft on Monday.

Waveney MP Peter Aldous, who attended the launch at OrbisEnergy, said: “The message to government is that if we get this investment then we can deliver the private sector job opportunities they want. As MPs it’s very important that we hunt as a pack, because when we do that and keep repeating the message, it gets across.

“There’s a great potential in the area to create private sector jobs within the energy industry and wider offshore field including oil and gas de-commissioning, and also nuclear at Sizewell. But the market left on its own isn’t enough and, to make sure we fully realise that potential, we need the ‘spark’ to get it going and encourage businesses and encourage businesses to come here. The enterprise zone bid is very much that spark.”

Although the bid is focused on boosting the energy industry and supply chain in the towns, there are also hopes the extra investment will also “substantially benefit” other businesses such as hotels, B&Bs, restaurants and other leisure and recreation businesses while also helping to offset the effects of seasonal trends in the tourism industry.

New Anglia LEP chairman Andy Wood said if selected by the government, the enterprise zone could create up to 2,000 jobs and attract 80 businesses by 2015 and 13,500 jobs and 200 businesses over the lifetime of the zone.

He said: “The New Anglia Enterprise Zone for Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft is deliverable, with sites ready to go right now requiring very little additional infrastructure. It will create thousands of jobs and is timely because of significant investment plans by major energy providers in the next few years.”