Blackpool’s enterprise zone could put it at the forefront of energy technology, community leaders have said.
Northern Powerhouse minister James Wharton gave the green light to the airport site to become an enterprise zone which could create 3,000 jobs in coming years.
He said it was “a real boost for the town’s ambitions to become a centre of excellence for the UK energy sector” and “could secure the future of Blackpool Airport for years to come.”
He said with a new energy HQ based there backed by £6.2m Growth Deal funding, it would aim to provide job-ready students in engineering and advanced technology.
Blackpool South MP Gordon Marsden said:“The confirmation at last of Blackpool’s Enterprise zone is very welcomed - it comes very much on the back of sustained lobbying from Blackpool Council and myself of the Secretary of State for Communities and Local government, and importantly fits in with the priorities of growth and jobs in the South Shore area.
“I am particularly pleased with the establishment of the energy college at the airport which will fit in well with the objective of sustaining and developing operations out of the airport.
“I also hope it will enable us to develop the strong offshore activity in energy in Liverpool bay and also give a boost to the renewables of wind and solar, which are the genuinely viable alternative for the Fylde and the rest of the North West in the future.”
Bev Robinson, Principal and Chief Exec of Blackpool and The Fylde College which will base its Energy college at the site said: “We welcome the Government’s announcement of an Enterprise Zone for Blackpool and the potential job creation that this brings to the area.
“Following Balfour Beatty’s design proposal for the site, and the creation of a new passenger terminal, we will submit plans for the Lancashire LEP supported Energy HQ on the newly created EZ.
“The co-location of this innovative training facility will help to encourage inward investment.”
Blackpool North MP Paul Maynard said: “When the airport first closed and I went to see the Chancellor, this was my immediate recommendation as the best step forward for the town as a whole.
“It will help create the steady flow of business traffic which I believe the airport will need to rebuild a route network, but at the same time ensuring that we utilise available land for economic development.
“Being on the Fylde/Blackpool border, it also re-emphasises why the local council needs to see economic development as something where we need co-operation with the private sector in Fylde, and not division”.
Chairman of the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership Edwin Booth said: “As an EZ specialising in energy, with the chance to develop other key sectors, the site offers immense commercial potential for both Blackpool and Lancashire as a whole. The LEP is looking forward to working with its partners to maximise the wide range of opportunities this new EZ will offer.”