Tax breaks to lure firms to Capital’s enterprise zones

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GENEROUS incentives will be offered to attract businesses and jobs to newly-designated enterprise areas such as Edinburgh’s BioQuarter and the Port of Leith.

Businesses in the new zones will be able to claim up to 100 per cent rates relief, worth up to £275,000, along with quicker decisions on planning applications, better broadband, skills and training support, and an international marketing campaign.

Announcing the package, Finance Secretary John Swinney said he wanted to create the “most competitive” environment for business in the UK.

He said: “We are doing all we can to support jobs and secure new investment in our communities, and enterprise areas are another means to help us achieve this.”

Mr Swinney last month named four enterprise areas involving 14 sites across Scotland. Edinburgh’s BioQuarter, at Little France, and Midlothian’s nearby BioCampus are part of the life sciences enterprise area. The Port of Leith is part of the eastern low-carbon/renewables enterprise area.

City council leader Jenny Dawe said Edinburgh had already been shown to be an attractive location for businesses, but the enterprise area incentives would be an extra help in winning jobs and investment for the Capital.

She said: “With the decision to locate the Green Investment Bank headquarters in Edinburgh and the announcement by Gamesa of 800 jobs for Leith, we are obviously able to sell ourselves as a great location for the kind of businesses being looked at, but this will be helpful.

“Anything that provides an incentive is useful, especially when you look at the incentives other countries are able to offer.

“It provides a package that should be very attractive to companies wanting to set up in these areas and it shows the Scottish Government is taking this really seriously and wants to encourage home-grown and overseas investors to come in.”

Councillor Dawe said new industry meant new jobs, which would be important in tackling unemployment.

She said: “These days we are particularly concerned about youth unemployment in areas like Craigmillar, which is close to the BioQuarter. That could help the regeneration of the area and provide employment.”

Cllr Dawe said she was pleased Edinburgh had been awarded two of the 14 sites for the enterprise areas.

She added: “Now it’s a case of waiting to see whether it does stimulate the sort of inward investment looked for.”

Mr Swinney said the Scottish Government had worked with enterprise agencies to select the sites, which were strategic locations for key growth sectors.

He said: “Scottish Enterprise will work closely with local authorities and the business community to maximise the economic potential of each site.”

WIND TURBINE CENTRE BOOST

JAPANESE engineering giant Mitsubishi is to go ahead with a wind turbine centre in Edinburgh, creating more than 100 jobs.

Prime Minister David Cameron confirmed the investment during a trade mission visit to Japan.

The company is set to invest £89 million in a research and development project in the Capital to scale up a new type of generator for wind turbines.

The investment valued is expected to mean more than 100 high-quality jobs in the project in the near future.

In the longer term, the technology is said to have the potential to generate large numbers of jobs in the supply chain.

Mr Cameron said: “Mitsubishi’s decision to invest in Edinburgh is a huge boost to the Scottish economy and a vote of confidence in our research and development sector.

“It’s fantastic news that it will create over 100 jobs in Scotland with the potential for more in the supply chain.

“The UK and Japan are both at the cutting edge of the renewable energy sector, making them perfect partners. We are committed to seizing the economic opportunities in renewable energy supply chains as the global race for capital in low-carbon sectors intensifies.”

Mitsubishi said it was not yet ready to reveal full details of the investment, the timing of the project or its location, but official confirmation and more details are expected within the next few weeks.