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19 March 2014

Budget 2014: Northern Ireland gets an Enterprise Zone

Amongst the measures in today’s Budget was the announcement that Northern Ireland would get an Enterprise Zone on a site adjacent to the University of Ulster Coleraine Campus.

The international data centre - 5NINES – has already announced a £20million, 15 job project on the site, which is where the Project Kelvin US-UK transatlantic fibre, comes ashore.

Back in March 2011, the Budget announced plans for zones in England and Wales to boost economic growth, with the government confident that 30,000 new jobs would be created by 2015 by giving cheaper business rates, superfast broadband and lower levels of planning control.

Due to the prolonged recession, significantly fewer jobs have actually been created in England.

PwC chief economist Dr Esmond Birnie says there are currently 24 Enterprise Zones in England and a further seven designated for Wales, but this is the first Enterprise Zone to be announced for Northern Ireland:

“The announcement is part of the ‘Building a Prosperous and United Community’ document that was published in June 2013 as an agreement between the Prime Minister, the Secretary of State and the First and deputy First Ministers.

“The pilot Enterprise Zone in Coleraine will only offer enhanced capital allowances which permits 100% first year allowances for expenditure on qualifying plant and machinery.

“Today’s announcement means that the 5NINES project will benefit from the enhanced capital allowances, as it will now be within the new Enterprise Zone.

“And while this is welcome addition to the economic development arsenal, there are restrictions on the benefits that can accrue to organisations locating within and Enterprise Zone, so I suspect the Coleraine zone will focus on attracting activities like data centres.”

Ends.