The Heart of the South West LEP’s bid for a new enterprise zone has been approved by government as part of today’s Autumn Statement announcement.

The Huntspill Energy Park, near Bridgwater is one of two sites within the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise area to be successfully nominated for this status. The other is the Exeter & East Devon Growth Point. Both locations were chosen for their economic potential: a total of 177 hectares across five sites, with the potential to support 17,800 new high value jobs over the next 25 years and an additional £320m in GVA per annum to the UK economy by 2040.

Enterprise zones enable the local area to retain a greater share of business rate income which would otherwise be returned to national government. They offer discounted rates to new businesses locating in the zones, simplified planning rules and other support, such as enhanced broadband provision.

The bid was successful because of the clear alignment with the Heart of the South West LEP’s strategic economic plan, which identifies both Hinkley Point C in Somerset, and the growth potential of environment sciences in and around Exeter, as transformational economic opportunities. This builds on the success of the existing enterprise zone in Plymouth - which is focussed on marine industries - another of the Heart of the South West’s unique economic selling points.

Steve Hindley, Chair of the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership (HotSW LEP) said:
“We are delighted with today’s announcement of our successful bid. It demonstrates the government’s confidence in the HotSW area and its potential for transformational growth. The new sites on our LEP-wide enterprise zone package build on the existing zone at Plymouth’s South Yard to offer economic opportunities for each of the key sectors in our strategic economic plan: Marine, Environmental Futures and New Nuclear.

“Our enterprise zone will benefit the whole of the Heart of the South West economy as the sites are strategically sited along the M5 to Plymouth transport route and will generate jobs and growth throughout the area.”

Councillor David Hall, Somerset County Council’s Cabinet Member for Business, Inward Investment and Policy, said:
“We’ve worked closely with the Planning Authority and the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership on this bid and are delighted to hear that it has been successful. Enterprise zone status will help enable the development of key sites, including the Huntspill Energy Park near Bridgwater, into important local employment sites. The Huntspill Energy Park will secure supply chain investment linked to Hinkley Point C, as well as enabling business rate relief for small and medium sized enterprises. Today’s announcement is great news for the local economy in Sedgemoor and across wider parts of Somerset and the South West.”

Councillor Duncan McGinty, Leader of Sedgemoor District Council said:
“We are delighted that our joint bid for enterprise zone status for Huntspill Energy Park at Puriton and its partner sites within East Devon has been successful. This new status will offer renewed opportunities to unlock employment and investment on the site, and in the surrounding area, as well as to enhance our ability to attract investment linked to Hinkley and beyond. Critically, it places BAE Systems site at Puriton within a small group of nationally important centres for growth spread across the country, recognising the effort being put in within the District and along the wider M5 corridor."

Huntspill Energy Park is a 90 hectare site on a former munitions facility owned by BAE Systems. The Huntspill site is complementary to the government’s investment in Hinkley Point C; it supports the Hinkley supply chain and provides a platform for growth of a new nuclear cluster. EZ investment will help to secure growth in this sector and enable the construction of a new access road and remediation works. For more information about the potential for this site please contact the Somerset 3D partners at Sedgemoor District Council.

(25 November 2015)