Councillors ‘frustrated’ over Enterprise Zone delay

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Back in March 2014, Chancellor George Osborne announced the creation of Northern Ireland’s first enterprise zone, which would be located in Coleraine.

At a meeting of Council last week, DUP councillor Trevor Clarke asked for an update on the designation of the zone, which will be built at a site close to the University of Ulster.

Enterprise zones already exist elsewhere in the UK, and offer hi-tech businesses tax incentives and simplified planning procedures.

The Coleraine zone will be built where the Project Kelvin transatlantic fibre, which connects the US and UK, comes ashore.

Members attending Tuesday’s meeting heard that the Treasury was currently ‘working on designation’.

Corporate Director, Richard Baker told members that he hoped to be bring a report to the February meeting, but he added that ‘it was more likely to be the March meeting’.

DUP cllr Trevor Clarke pointed out: “we are approaching the second anniversary of the announcement, I would really like to see some progress,” he said.

Speaking after the meeting, cllr Clarke told The Times: “I remain disappointed and frustrated that Coleraine’s Enterprise Zone has not yet been officially designated.

“In March 2014, the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced Coleraine would be awarded ‘Enterprise Zone’ status.

“After almost two years, we are still awaiting formal designation from HM Treasury.

“Coleraine will not be in a position to realise the economic benefits of Enterprise Zone status until this happens.

“Whilst some steps forward have been taken, we are in danger of losing any competitive advantage Enterprise Zone status might bring if designation isn’t completed in the very near future.

“The DUP is lobbying across government with a view to encouraging the completion of Enterprise Zone designation as a matter of urgency.”