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Humber estuary targets renewable energy firms

Humber estuary gets second enterprise zone to target renewable energy firms

The autumn statement has recognised the damage caused to the Humber estuary’s economy by the uncertain future of BAe Systems at Brough.

Thirty five hectares at the aircraft factory have been included in a second Enterprise Zone for the area announced by the Chancellor, George Osborne, along with a string of other sites beside the estuary including 30 hectares at Hull’s Queen Elizabeth dock and 11 at the port of Grimsby.

The approval creates a potential ‘Humber Corridor’ with concessionary terms for incoming manufacturing or other development, much on the lines of the less happily named ‘Grey Areas’ which were declared for similar reasons in the 1960s. The zone totals 161 hectares in all and joins the first, 373 hectare, enteprise zone declared earlier in the year, which is the UK’s biggest.

Big fish. David Cameron meets a halibut in Grimsby during the election campaign. Photograph: Stefan Rousseau/PA

The sites will be targeted at renewable energy firms with Grimsby adding an additional specialisation of renewable energy offshore operations and maintenance, or windmills in the sea. Companies investigating tidal energy may also be interested in the area, where the North Sea is steadily stealing the Holderness coast and bringing it round Spurn Point to add to the flatlands of Sunk Island, a vast area of farmland reclaimed from the sea.

The zones were worked out and submitted to the Government by the Humber Local Enterprise Partnership which has one an additional concession to appeal to new firms. It will be one of only six LEPs in the country allowed to offer companies enhanced capital allowances on plant and machinery, worth several million pounds in large investments.

The final toy in the sack is the Chancellor’s halving of Humber Bridge tolls which should increase connections across the estuary.

Lord Haskins, chair of the Humber LEP, says: “The approval of our second enterprise zone proposal, alongside our designation as a Centre for Offshore Renewable Engineering, is recognition of the leading role the Humber is playing in the development of renewable energy.
We will now be able to offer incentives to more manufacturers, operations and maintenance companies to come to the Humber.   We already have an excellent location, existing skills, expertise and infrastructure.”

Councilor Mick Burnett, deputy leader of North East Lincolnshire council, says: “The enterprise zone will help to address the current situation at BAe and also provide local employment and business generation opportunities. The inclusion of the Port of Grimsby complements the existing zone and is key to the Humber-wide potential to be the UK’s national and international centre for renewable energy.”