NW 2013: Big reality

MC2 Atlantic Gateway projects have regional, national and international significance; they will involve £14bn of private sector investment and deliver 250,000 jobs. Next year will see significant progress for this series of projects.

Infrastructure investment is well recognised as a key to sustainable growth and already this year, the Government put its money where its mouth is. The Northern Hub, one of the top priorities for the Atlantic Gateway, was announced to be going forward with full funding. The Northern Hub will address a series of rail capacity and connectivity problems that hinder the effective movement of people to jobs. The unlocking of these problems will yield £4.2bn gross value added to the northern economy, with 30,000 jobs associated with it.

Northern Hub is not the only major infrastructure project moving towards reality. Liverpool 2 at Seaforth is a new deep-river terminal that will have the capacity to handle the new larger, post-Panamax container vessels which are currently unable to dock on Merseyside. The investment will help realise a project which is expected to bring 5,000 new jobs to Merseyside and remove over 150m miles of road and rail travel.

Port Salford is a £138m project with planning permission to develop the UK's first tri-modal – road, rail and short-sea shipping – inland port facility and distribution park in Barton next to the Manchester Ship Canal. Port Salford is a critical component of the Atlantic Gateway development, with Peel as the main private sector partner, and will provide a central North West distribution base to improve supply chains for industry. It will enable direct barge access to the river terminal at the Port of Liverpool and will reduce the environmental impact of the terminal's expansion by reducing freight levels on road.

Port Bridgewater in Ellesmere Port will provide unrivalled road and rail connectivity for 1.5m ft sq of warehousing.

The Mersey Gateway project is a major scheme to build a new six-lane toll bridge over the Mersey between Runcorn and Widnes that will relieve the congested and ageing Silver Jubilee Bridge. It has been listed as one of the top 100 infrastructure projects globally and has full government backing.

In March 2011, Manchester Airport was confirmed as the location of one of the UK Government's Enterprise Zones. Centred on the new Airport City development, businesses will be offered incentives to locate here in order to create new jobs and stimulate economic growth; locally, regionally and nationally.

In April 2012 Sci-Tech Daresbury was formally confirmed as one of the UK's Enterprise Zones. The Sci-Tech Daresbury Enterprise Zone will create space for 10,000 high-quality jobs across several hundred technology companies, develop over 1m sq ft of specialised office, laboratory and technical space, generate over £200m/year of GVA and leverage over £150m of private sector investment.

These are just some of the most significant projects that will be progressed in the North West in 2013, so there is much on which to build business confidence. I predict that 2013 will still have its challenges but that the North West will see better opportunities in some of the most exciting infrastructure investments in decades.

  • Susan Williams, executive director, Atlantic Gateway

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