Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft enterprise zone given the green light
The government has today paved the way for thousands of jobs to be created in some of the most deprived parts of the region by giving the green light to an enterprise zone which will kickstart a boom in the energy sector.
Business and local authority leaders predict the new zone, covering six areas of Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft, will transform the area and have knock-on benefits for the rest of Norfolk and Suffolk.
The zone will have simplified planning rules, tax breaks for new and expanding businesses and 'super-fast' broadband links. It is hoped private firms will be tempted to set up or expand their existing operations.
The bid, submitted by the New Anglia local enterprise partnership (LEP), aims to create up to 2,000 jobs and attract 80 businesses by 2015 and 13,500 jobs and 200 businesses over the 25-year lifetime of the zone. It is designed to capitalise on the area's leading position in the energy sector
In a separate decision, West Norfolk will also benefit from a winning Greater Cambridge and Greater Peterborough local enterprise partnership bid for the Alconbury Airfield Zone near Huntington.
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Andy Wood, chairman of the New Anglia LEP, said the bid had been successful because the plans was 'deliverable, credible and realistic' and it focused on an existing sector.
He also said they were ready to start straightaway.
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He said: 'The sites are ready to go now. There are minimal infratructure costs with them and we know there is growth in the energy sector. We know there are companies that are going to want to be based in the UK through offshore wind development. 'Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft are well-placed and it will give us a competitive advantage here rather than on the continent, whether in the Netherlands or other parts.'
The news came todaytues as part of an announcement by the prime minister david Cameron of 11 new enterprize zones across the country designed to boost growth and create 30,000 jobs.
Any increase in business rates from an enterprise zone will be retained by the LEP to support wider economic development.
Across Norfolk and Suffolk it is though that could generate tens of millions of pounds over the next 25 years and create more than 10,000 additional jobs in the two counties.
Mark Goodall, New Anglia LEP board member and area manager of international energy business Aker Solutions, said it was not only excellent news for Yarmouth and Lowestoft but for the whole area.
He said: 'EZ (enterprise zone) status will give much needed boost to facilitating the further development of the energy supply chain in Norfolk and Suffolk and underpin future jobs growth.
He added: 'We have been given this wonderful opportunity and now is the time to roll up our sleeves and demonstrate that it is the right decision.'
The New Anglia LEP bid was developed by the public-private partnership the Norfolk and Suffolk Energy Alliance (NSEA).
Brandon Lewis, MP for Great Yarmouth, said the enterprise zone would attract investment and put the east coast on the economic map.
'That our bid was successful is a testament to a government that is interested in and understands and cares about our unique concerns rather than only thinking about the big urban cities.'
Peter Aldous, MP for Waveney said: 'Evidence from the private sector shows that the granting of enterprise zone status will make a clear difference. It will be a tipping point for investment.'
The New Anglia bid was one of 11 given the green light by the Government today, out of a total of 29 bids it was ranked in the top five.
Barry Dennis, president of the Norfolk Chamber of Commerce, said: 'Being ranked in the top five of all submissions shows what quality work the LEP is already achieving. There have been complaints in the past about lack of funding into our region. This is hopefully a sign that things are on the way up.'
Derrick Murphy, leader of Norfolk County Council and a New Anglia LEP board member, said: 'Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft have many things that bind the two towns together, but in terms of future opportunities; the energy sector is the most significant.
'There are over 500 businesses already involved in the energy sector located in the Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft areas, employing around 10,000 people directly and many more in the various supply chains.
'This announcement furthers our ability to compete, as the business rate and planning benefits within the enterprise zone are an attractive proposition to bring more companies into the area, buoyed by our existing expertise base.'
Steve Ames, Leader of Great Yarmouth Borough Council, said: 'Enterprise zone status will give our ever increasing efforts to promote the energy offer in the Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft sub region an important boost - attracting new inward investment and jobs to this area, which will in turn provide significant economic opportunities for our existing energy supply chain and the local economy in general.'