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Written Statement - Announcement of Port Talbot Waterfront Enterprise Zone

Edwina Hart, Minister for Economy, Science and Transport

Today I am announcing the establishment of a new Enterprise Zone at Port Talbot Waterfront.

Assembly Members will be aware of the swift action we have taken to respond to the announced job losses in the steel industry, with a range of practical actions being taken forward through the Tata Steel Task Force.

This latest announcement of the establishment of the Port Talbot Waterfront Enterprise Zone follows active and constructive work with Neath Port Talbot County Borough Council and the Business and Supply Chain work stream of the task force with my officials.

I am grateful for the work undertaken in developing the proposal which aims to create new employment opportunities and strengthen the economic base of the area.

Our experience in other parts of Wales has shown how Enterprise Zone designation acts as a powerful tool in raising an area’s profile and highlighting its many strengths. In the case of the Port Talbot Waterfront Enterprise Zone, these include high skill levels, location, infrastructure, and connectivity.

The strategy for the Enterprise Zone will be based around established employment sites in the area which have significant capacity for supporting further business investment. These are Baglan Energy Park, Baglan Industrial Estate and Habourside / Port Talbot Docks. Taken together, this is an area covering existing employment sites and land suited to further development. The boundary of the Enterprise Zone will encompass these sites, with the financial benefits of Zone status applying to qualifying businesses within those sites. A map of the area will be made available on our website in due course.

The Enterprise Zone will support the existing sector, supply-chain and general business base, in addition to helping the area to exploit opportunities to attract new investment and business growth.

We are looking to deploy a range of incentives within the Enterprise Zone and I am pleased to announce today that we will be launching a targeted Business Rates offer for qualifying businesses for the coming financial year. To ensure that we achieve best value and impact, the scheme will focus on small and medium-sized enterprises, with priority placed on those businesses that are new-starts or are expanding and increasing the size of their permanent workforce. Details of the criteria, and the operation of the scheme, will be available prior to the launch on our website and through the usual business channels.

I am also pleased to confirm that, following very positive and productive discussions with HM Treasury, the Chancellor included in his Budget yesterday the offer of Enhanced Capital Allowances for the Port Talbot Waterfront Enterprise Zone, subject to agreement with my officials on the boundaries. This is a very welcome development by the Chancellor and will make the Enterprise Zone more competitive and be a strong incentive for new investment.

These incentives, together with our wider support for growth and jobs, and the area’s Assisted Area status will make the Port Talbot Waterfront Enterprise Zone a compelling proposition to indigenous businesses and to anyone seeking to invest and locate there.

From our experience with other Enterprise Zones, we know that the proactive engagement of key stakeholders in the area is vital and I will be taking this into account in the governance arrangements. I know this development has the active support of the Swansea Bay City Region, the local authority, major employers and other stakeholders in the area. It is important that we all play our part in making the Port Talbot Waterfront Enterprise Zone a success.