Lincolnshire outlines importance of Food Enterprise Zones to unlock regeneration
Food Enterprise Zones (FEZ) are key to unlocking important regeneration opportunities in the region according to Justin Brown, enterprise commissioner at Lincolnshire County Council.
Speaking at a panel event at MIPIM today ,Brown said that FEZ are central to Greater Lincolnshire’s economy, with the region leading and innovating across key three clusters: seafood, arable & poultry and fresh produce.
“Over 30% of all UK food transportation starts or ends in Lincolnshire, with the region acting as the largest processor of fish at 70% of the UK market. We have more Grade 1 agricultural land than any other LEP in England and we process over 25% of the UK’s potatoes and vegetables,” he said.
“There are 17 FEZ across the UK, however, Greater Lincolnshire is home to more than any other region with three in place: Peppermint Park in Holbeach, Hemswell Cliff in Central Lincolnshire and Europarc III in Grimsby. Because of this, it is no surprise that Lincolnshire is the largest food producing region in the UK and is a hot spot for food chain investment. This has only been bolstered in the last year, with the GLLEP recently securing £6.5m in the Spring 2017 Budget to help unlock our FEZ sites and fund vital infrastructure works such as the delivery of roads, power and water.
“We have a clear strategy in place for sector growth which outlines our ambition to double the economic contribution our food production sector makes between 2012 and 2030. To support our ambitious plans, we will be: supporting food sector companies which support the growth of supply chains, building on existing clusters such as fresh produce and fish processing, ensuring water is readily available to our FEZ sites, and investing in infrastructure to ensure markets can be accessed effectively.
“Agri-tech is changing at a pace never seen before and rapid growth in automation, new systems and innovation are all attracting specialist companies to set-up and grow across the UK. We are working hard to ensure that our FEZ are at the heart of this agri-tech revolution and are able to meet the growing needs of the food sector and its innovators. New high-tech companies can secure high rent yields for investors alongside continual expansion, making investment into our FEZ sites a huge priority for the GLLEP.
“We are currently developing a FEZ programme to drive collaborative projects, such as promoting efficient supply chains for technology companies. Moving into the future this programme could include direct investment; collaborative applied research and development programmes or company partnerships for technology exchanges. Alongside this, we are also able to ensure Local Development Orders (LDOs) are in place to give planning permission in advance to developments for specific types of use within our FEZ sites – helping developments to move quickly and efficiently in Greater Lincolnshire.
“By refreshing and reviewing our sector plan for FEZ across Greater Lincolnshire, we are developing clusters of food companies both within and linked to the three FEZ in the GLLEP area and attracting further inward investment into the food sector and as hubs for business support services for the food chain. We are incredibly proud of all the region has achieved in recent years, and are certain our FEZ sites will continue to attract major players in the food production sector to grow and expand in Lincolnshire.”
The presentation was given on ‘Lincolnshire Day’, which featured back-to-back panels and presentations led by key delegates including: Councillor Martin Hill, Leader of Lincolnshire County Council and Team Lincolnshire sponsor, Tim Downing from Pygott & Crone. Alongside the informative events there were also local sausages prepared for attendees sponsored by CPMG.