Lancashire picks sites for enterprise zone bid

The Lancashire Enterprise Partnership has put forward land surrounding two sites used by BAE Systems as it preferred bid for enterprise zone status in the county.

Areas around the defence organisation's factories at Warton and Samlesbury, near Preston, will be submitted to the government as Lancashire's bid to become one of the 10 new enterprise zones being created this summer.

Edwin Booth, chair of the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership, said: "The advanced engineering and manufacturing industry is already among Lancashire's economic strengths, employing thousands of people in some internationally renowned facilities.

"By definition it is an industry that must move with the times and this bid aims to ensure Lancashire is at the heart of pioneering the next wave of technological advances.

"The board feels it is an excellent bid that measures up well against the criteria the government will consider. We must exercise a note of caution however, because it will be up against stiff competition."

The enterprise zone would offer businesses incentives including discounted business rates and priority connection to the superfast broadband network.

There are expected to be upwards of 30 bids for enterprise zones from across the country, with a maximum of 10 likely to be approved.

Steve Fogg, director integrated services at BAE Systems, added: "We believe the proposal we have submitted provides the opportunity to further link two key industrial sites that span Lancashire and, building on existing skills and capabilities coupled with working alongside other companies in the region, presents the potential to generate high value jobs in the future."

If successful, land would be made available at both sites for development by companies in the advanced engineering and manufacturing sector.

The LEP said it would specifically seek to attract start-up companies and firms seeking to expand or relocate to Lancashire.

At meeting held last night, a separate proposal to create an enterprise zone linking areas around the M65 motorway, including sites at Blackburn and Burnley, was turned down by the LEP board.

Lancashire was unsuccessful in the first round bids for enterprise zone status announced by the government in March.

The first 11 enterprise zones included Peel's Liverpool and Wirral Waters schemes and Manchester Airport.

The Government said it is allocating £100m towards the 21 enterprise zones, which breaks down to around £5m for each zone.

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