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MAJOR FIRMS LINK TO CAR PLANT PLAN; Up to 1,000 jobs could be created on site.

Byline: LIAM MURPHY

GENERAL Motors and Tata were today linked with plans for an automotive park which could employ a 1,000 people and could be built as part of the Wirral Waters project in Birkenhead docks.

The council revealed the plans for the site off Beaufort Road near the proposed International Trade Centre, which developer Peel is also aiming to bring to the borough.

It came as the first trees were planted as part of a project to enhance the key routes into the PS4.5bn Wirral Waters site between Birkenhead and Wallasey.

Wallasey MP Angela Eagle said the scheme had "a long gestation" but it was "really exciting that it is beginning to get going".

The car parts industry plan is intended to support local manufacturers such as Jaguar Land Rover and Vauxhall - and it is hoped the first companies could be on site by 2015, in time for the new Astra according to Wirral council's interim strategic director for regeneration and environment.

Mr Adderley said no companies have yet been signed up for former Mobil site, which benefits from key "tax breaks" after being made an Enterprise Zone.

He said the aim is to "bring back some of the supply chain for the automotive sector" and added: "We want to see how we can get more parts of cars built in the UK."

Mr Adderley added: "It's a couple of years off before we would have anything opened on the site.

"The intention is there will be a number of car parts suppliers located there.

"No company is signed up or committed to the development yet."

But he said construction and fit-out could be completed relatively quickly and added: "We believe two years is more than enough time to get something up and running.

"General Motors have said they are determined to bring their supply chain back to the west, so this is clearly not the council or Peel acting in isolation.

"This location benefits from being an Enterprise Zone, with enhanced capital allowances - and is only one of two sites like this in the north of England.

"It's about making the sector aware if the opportunities." Another source said the authority had been in touch with both GM and Tata about using the site for automotive parts, but said it remains "early days".

Richard Mawdsley, project director for Peel, said the final use of the site remains open and he could see it also being used for constructing rail rolling stock or other "advanced manufacturing".

He added: "We have lots of ideas for the site and plan to begin marketing it soon. We just want to get the message out there."

As part of the preparations for the ITC site 1,200 trees are to be planted creating "green" routes to the Wirral Waters site. The first tree planted was a Gingko tree, the national tree of China to mark the partnership between Peel and the Sam Wa Group who they are working with on the International Trade Centre plan for the nearby dockland.

Afterwards, council leader Phil Davies said the authority has an "excellent partnership" with Peel and Wirral Waters is a huge opportunity for the borough.

Mr Mawdsley said they now plan to officially launch the site and begin marketing it to potential end users in the next four to six weeks, and said: "We are talking to the automotive industry and also to companies about using it for rail rolling stock."

CAPTION(S):

IDEAS: Richard Mawdsley

BUSINESS PLAN: Wirral Waters West Float site showing the planned International Trade Centre, in the foreground, and beyond it the site of the proposed automotive parts manufacturing park
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Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Feb 16, 2013
Words:611
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