Five enterprise zone sites revealed for Wales

Welsh Business Minister Edwina Hart spoke to BBC Wales before addressing business leaders in Cardiff.

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Five enterprise zones for different industries across Wales are being created by the Welsh Government.

It comes after Jaguar Land Rover confirmed on Monday that it is to build a factory in the West Midlands instead of Wales.

Welsh ministers had been urged to act after 21 enterprise zones were announced across England.

The five new zones will be at Anglesey, Ebbw Vale, Deeside, St Athan in the Vale of Glamorgan, and Cardiff.

Companies investing in the sites will receive rate relief and may benefit from tax breaks to expand.

The Welsh Government said its plans were in the early stages and no final decision had been made on whether to relax planning rules.

Enterprise zones in Wales

  • Anglesey: Energy
  • Cardiff Central: Financial services
  • Deeside: Advanced manufacturing
  • Ebbw Vale: Automotive
  • St Athan: Aerospace.

It is initially making £10m available over the next five years.

Welsh Business Minister Edwina Hart told BBC Wales: "This is a first stage announcement, we are having discussions with other local authorities and partners about possible other enterprise zones.

"I think what's been made clear to me over the summer from industry and all the people I've spoken to is they regard enterprise zones as a real focal point for them."

She said discussions were ongoing with the UK government over budgets for capital allowances - where companies receive tax breaks when they invest in new machinery to expand.

'Positive discussions'

There had been hopes Jaguar Land Rover would site its new engine plant, which it expected to create 750 jobs, in south Wales.

Analysis

The announcement came as something of a surprise.

In the past Edwina Hart has been quite sceptical when I've interviewed her about the merits of enterprise zones.

The big criticism, and what people remember particularly in the 1980s in Swansea where there was a big enterprise zone is that it just displaces business.

It moves companies from one bit of a city or one area into another rather than actually generating new business and new companies.

But Mrs Hart said she had taken soundings from companies and businessmen and women during the course of the summer and had been persuaded of their merits and that resulted in Monday night's announcement.

The big difference between what will happen in England and in Wales is that in England any company can go to these particular enterprise zones.

In Wales, it will be much more prescriptive, so not just particular areas, but particular sectors as well.

Supporters believe if you have a relatively small pot of money for economic development you really have to be specific and go for particular areas because if you try to be all things to all people you generally won't succeed.

Those against will say that the market place doesn't work like that. Civil servants and politicians are trying to pick winners in a dynamic work place and generally speaking things won't work.

But the company, which also considered India, said a £355m factory in Wolverhampton would be closer to its other plants.

Ms Hart said enterprise zones had not been a factor in the car manufacturer's decision.

"We had positive discussions with the company," he added.

"If you look at Jaguar Land Rover they are already within the West Midlands with a substantial base.

"I'm obviously very disappointed we were not there at the end game but I'm delighted that the jobs have come to the UK."

She said suppliers in the Welsh car components sector may benefit from orders from the new plant.

Cardiff council leader Rodney Berman said it would help the city compete with English cities and regions.

"I have lobbying for this to happen for some time and have written to the First Minister to urge that enterprise zones are introduced as this is the only way we can be placed on a level playing field with cities such as Bristol," he added.

Conservative business spokesman Nick Ramsay AM said the announcement was "long overdue".

"Many will fear this announcement, which contains no detail or substance to support Welsh businesses, is simply a knee-jerk reaction to the loss of the £355million Jaguar Land Rover plant," he added.

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