Edwina Hart, Minister for Business, Enterprise, Technology and Science
I am writing to update you on Enterprise Zones in Wales. This statement gives the latest position on a number of cross cutting issues and provides updates on the individual Zones.
Enhanced Capital Allowances (ECAs) are already secured for certain sites in Deeside. Additional proposals for ECAs in Wales are now under consideration by HM Treasury.
In Plenary last month, I announced targeted Business Rate incentives in our Enterprise Zones, matching the £10 million UK Government consequential with £10 million from the Welsh Government. This will 'go live' in January.
Enterprise Zones are confirmed as some of the first areas to benefit from the roll-out of next generation broadband. As the European Commission has now approved the UK Government's National Broadband Scheme, I expect to receive formal approval for the Wales scheme from the UK Government shortly.
I am pleased to see that the new powers to simplify planning via Local Development Orders are already being used by Planning Authorities within Enterprise Zone areas, with support from the Welsh Government’s Planning Improvement Fund.
I am encouraged by the proactive way all the Enterprise Zone Boards are looking at opportunities to work with academia and skills providers. All Zones will benefit from our pan-Wales skills offer; we have worked closely with the Department for Education and Skills on this since the outset of our Enterprise Zone programme.
Turning to the individual Zones themselves, the Boards have considered the overall vision and infrastructure requirements and I have received their high level strategic plans.
Cardiff is strengthening its emerging position as one of the UK’s premier locations for Financial and Professional Services, attracting new investment, facilitating the development of new offices and new, high-quality jobs.
One area of focus for the Board is the development of Grade A offices within the Enterprise Zone. A number of companies are already looking to create a significant number of jobs within the Enterprise Zone. Other objectives include increased partnership with the City’s universities and taking advantage of Super Connected City status.
The Board supports the creation of a new City – Bay Metro transport system, linking together the various business hubs of Cardiff. Discussions will be held with the Enterprise Zone Board to shape plans for an integrated metro project.
Deeside will become a globally competitive centre for advanced manufacturing. The Board’s priorities are to develop and improve key infrastructure and property and to retain a strong manufacturing sector. Exploratory discussions are also underway to develop the proposal for an Advanced Manufacturing Centre of Excellence.
The infrastructure considerations include suggested transport improvements and proposals to further strengthen electricity supplies and deliver environmental improvements. Some improvements in the Shotton area have already been completed, for example the remodelling of bus bays to ease congestion. Other road projects are in development and will be progressed next year.
A number of strategic rail proposals are being considered, where additional rail investment would support enhanced connectivity to the Enterprise Zone and deliver benefits across north Wales. Funding for feasibility work has been allocated to look at an integrated transport hub in the area to meet high levels of passenger growth at Shotton station.
The Board has identified areas to attract specific activity such as sustainable manufacturing, aerospace and advanced manufacturing. My officials are currently in talks with companies across several sectors with the potential to deliver a significant number of jobs in the Zone.
Ebbw Vale will create a vibrant, high-technology hotspot with a broad-base of manufacturing companies of all sizes, providing employment that is challenging, rewarding and valued.
The first priority is to bring the main site at Rhyd Y Blew to the market in 2013. This is one of the largest development sites in Wales providing a unique location for major investment. A programme of work to make the site investment ready has been agreed and the site is being marketed as this goes ahead. We intend to secure an appropriate inward investment project that can deploy as soon as the site is ready, early in 2014.
A number of transport, power and ICT proposals are set out in the Ebbw Vale strategic plan, for example the completion of the new A465 dual carriageway road and associated infrastructure.
There has already been new business interest in key sites, although proposals are at an early stage. There is also the potential for development and new jobs via the expansion of existing business in the Zone. The Board now intends to focus on sales and marketing across the sites, to fill the enquiry pipeline in 2013.
Haven Waterway will focus on investment in energy projects, the creation of green jobs and the enhancement of existing jobs. There is a vital energy sector already well established in the area, along with the RWE nPower natural gas fired Power Station that officially opened in September, following a £1bn private sector investment.
Priorities for the Zone include the enhancement of ICT and transport links. Rail electrification to Swansea will reduce travel time and improve connectivity with the rest of the UK and other proposals are being considered which could also have an impact.
The Board will explore commercial opportunities associated with the deep natural harbour at Milford Haven. There are potential supply chain opportunities related to existing and proposed power generation facilities, the Board will look to maximise and exploit these.
A 200 acre site has been acquired by the Welsh Government, adjacent to one owned by Pembrokeshire County Council. A joint project team is exploring site remediation and opportunities for the energy sector and other developments.
In Snowdonia, whilst the sectoral focus is on ICT and Energy and Environment, a real strength is the high level skills of the existing workforce. The Board’s priorities are to capitalise on this high quality skills base and to explore opportunities associated with the nuclear licensed site.
Further work is required to determine detailed infrastructure proposals, but considerations include enhanced ICT and energy infrastructure and site improvement works. We have a constructive relationship with the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority which owns the Trawsfynydd site and discussions are ongoing in relation to both land availability and required property improvements.
Even at this early stage, there have been a number of enquiries at Trawsfynydd site. The potential of the Zone to use its unique assets and have a impact on the economy of the region is becoming clear.
The St Athan & Cardiff Airport Enterprise Zone is targeting Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul activities, together with support functions.
There is a high level of demand from businesses based in the UK and globally with significant requirement for both quality hanger space for maintenance work and aircraft hard standing.
Specific projects are commercial in confidence at this time, but I hope that some of these will mature in the very near future.
Ynys Môn Enterprise Zone will create a Centre of Excellence for the production, demonstration and servicing of low carbon energy. The Board’s priorities align with delivery of the Energy Island Programme, which is progressing well, and focus on number of green energy opportunities and complementary developments in tourism and leisure. The most significant of these follows the agreement to sell Horizon Nuclear Power to Hitachi.
Once started this project will create thousands of construction jobs and provide well-paid employment for hundreds of highly skilled workers on the Island for decades to come. There will also be supply chain and employment opportunities for Welsh companies. Hitachi and Horizon are working to deliver a lasting economic legacy in North Wales, engaging local suppliers and training local workers.
More generally, we are working with the Boards on longer-term marketing plans, including sustained campaigns in both local and international markets. Our Enterprise Zones web-site is performing well, generating almost half of the enquiries received to date. Further development is planned for the web-site early next year.
A good pipeline of projects is emerging across the Zones. These are at varying levels of development and are commercial in confidence. These could deliver jobs and supply chain opportunities across Wales.
Implementation is now well underway across all of our Enterprise Zones. I will provide a further oral update to Members in January next year.