Go-ahead for energy project at North Killingholme is 'critical'
THE go-ahead for the huge marine energy park at North Killingholme is critical if the Humber Local Enterprise Partnership is to build the "UK's Energy Estuary".
That is the view of chairman Lord Christopher Haskins, as he acknowledged strides made by the organisation in its first year and called for continued action to help deliver the goal.
A decision on Able UK's £450 million proposal is anticipated before the end of May, with the Infrastructure Planning Commission working towards a February 24 deadline for its recommendation to the Secretary of State for Transport.
A further three months is then allowed ahead of development consent being granted or refused by Government.
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Speaking to the Telegraph, Lord Haskins said: "It is critical. The two big issues are Able project going ahead and Siemens to invest on the North Bank. We need both. That I hope will be the big achievement of this year, that we get both."
Lord Haskins was speaking a year since the board of directors was formally appointed, with the LEP revealing a list of achievements as part of an annual review.
He said: "In our first year we have really started to build up a head of steam. We have helped secure the largest enterprise zone in the country, along with £65 million of Regional Growth Funding. We have also helped secure a reduction in Humber Bridge tolls and received national recognition for our renewable energy potential.
"This momentum will now be carried forward through the delivery of our five-year plan, along with our work on Lord Heseltine's pathfinder proposal for new pioneering ways of economic development and the application for City Deal status, which would see powers devolved to the region.
"The progress made so far is a result of businesses, councils and education working together to achieve common goals. We must continue to develop those close bonds for the Humber to reach its potential."
The enterprise zones offer investors a simplified planning process, significantly speeding up construction, as well as enhanced capital allowances and property tax breaks.
The LEP has also secured £30 million cash from the Regional Growth Fund and supported successful bids worth £35 million. Its work also led to the area being designated as a Centre for Offshore Renewable Engineering in HM Treasury's National Infrastructure Plan.
Lord Haskins, the former chairman of Northern Foods, added: "Our partnership began with a clear focus, realising the potential of the Humber.
"We have been operating for over a year now and by working with partners, we have firmly established the Humber LEP as a major force in setting the agenda for success in the region and driving it on towards economic prosperity.
"We have shared opportunities for growth and the knowledge that, by working together as one team, we can create a stronger, more prosperous economic future."
LORD Christopher Haskins is absolutely right when he says that a small number of key developments are critical to the future of the Humber region.
Of course, he does not need us to affirm what he is saying – a man of his experience and position knows only too well what is required to ensure the future is bright and opportunities are grasped.
However, it is worth highlighting how any failure to grasp opportunities could be the stumbling block to success.
And this is not always on a local level, as national and indeed international policy can often dictate the speed in which things are done and deals are won or lost.
Companies will not wait – they will go where the best opportunities are offered to them.
In today’s world they can locate to any corner of the globe and operate – therefore incentive, cost effectiveness and a ready workforce will sway their judgement.
The Humber region, with significant lobbying from both banks and the LEP, has made good strides in its drive to ensure it puts itself ahead of the game – in short, it is difficult to see how it can do any more.
However our regulations and planning processes sometimes still appear laborious, costly and time consuming.
Yes, we need guidelines and structure but that always must be balanced against a country’s need to ‘get on with the job’. Has Britain got it right?
*What do you think. Comment on this story below.