AN AREA of land earmarked for economic growth and investment has been given a major boost after it was declared a new enterprise zone.
North Tyneside Council and its partners on the Local Enterprise Partnership had been lobbying the government since last year to allow the North Bank of the Tyne to be selected.
And on Wednesday they were told that the 117 hectares of land – which includes the former Swan Hunter shipyard – will be a Low Carbon Enterprise Zone.
More than 7,000 direct new jobs are expected to be created in the area by 2022.
The prime site also includes the Neptune Yard and Port of Tyne North Estate, as well as the ultra low carbon vehicle sites adjacent to the A19 in Sunderland.
In a further boost to the local economy, the zones will allow investors on the sites to be eligible for enhanced capital allowances.
Mayor Linda Arkley said she is delighted with the news, saying it will drive a new era for the area’s manufacturing.
“This is a fantastic day for the whole of the north east – not just North Tyneside,” she said.
“The North Bank of the Tyne has historically been a real driver to the area’s economy.
“This enterprise zone means it will be once again.”
Mrs Arkley wrote to Vince Cable, Secretary of State for Business and Innovation and Skills, in February, calling on the government to repeat the enterprise zone initiative which resulted in the creation of Cobalt and Quorum Business Parks – generating 15,000 jobs across the borough.
She wrote: “The North Bank of the Tyne has a rich heritage of world-class manufacturing and sub-sea design and technology.
“Using this as a strong foundation, the area now has the potential to become not just the national lead, but also one of the top three locations in Europe for advanced offshore manufacturing and renewables research and development.
“The wider north east provides the critical mass of technology, support services, skilled labour and supply chain links whilst the North Bank provides the major sites capable of accommodating large inward investment opportunities such as the manufacture of offshore wind turbines, supported by a range of smaller sites along both sides of the river.”
Mrs Arkley added: “As a whole north east team – across the public and private sector – we are ready to take this forward to the benefit of all seven of the Local Enterprise Zone partner authorities.
“We have the land, we have the commitment, we have interest from business, we have a learning village in development to ensure the future workforces have the skills needed and now we have an Enterprise Zone that can make it happen.”
Paul Woolston, chairman of the North Eastern Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), said: “I am confident that the Low Carbon Enterprise Zone will
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deliver real benefits for the whole region.
“It builds on our success to date in low carbon manufacturing; electric vehicles; offshore wind; and science and innovation, and it will help the north east become a world-leader in the emerging market for low carbon research and development, manufacturing, installation and maintenance of low carbon technologies.
“Low carbon will play a big part in that future.
“We are delighted that the government has provided additional support in the form of Enhanced Capital Allowances for the Zone along the bank of the Tyne.
“This will kick-start our ambitions for high-end renewables in the area.”