Last week’s news that the Aerohub Enterprise Zone (EZ) is to be extended to include Goonhilly, has given Cornwall’s ambition to be a centre of excellence for the space and aerospace industries a major boost.
Goonhilly is already renowned as a major satellite communications hub and has aspirations to become a space science centre providing high-tech, well-paid jobs.
And these ambitions are, it is being said, closer to becoming a reality following the extension of the existing Aerohub Enterprise Zone at Newquay to include Goonhilly Earth Station.
Enterprise Zones were created by the Government to boost business investment and job creation. They can offer reduced business rates, tax relief on investment, superfast broadband and simplified planning.
Ian Jones, chief executive of Goonhilly Earth Station (GES) Ltd, which acquired the site on the Lizard Peninsula from BT last year, said the granting of EZ status to 64 hectares of land at Goonhilly would be a real boost.
He said: “This is brilliant news for Goonhilly and Cornwall?s space and satellite ambitions because Enterprise Zone status makes our site very attractive for business investment.
Goonhilly has fantastic connectivity and our ambition is to attract data centre companies, software developers and other high-tech businesses as part of a space science centre that will boost the economy, support research and innovation and create quality jobs.”
GES already provides satellite communications from Goonhilly to customers around the world and is working with a group of UK universities to support radio astronomy research.
Goonhilly has a direct link to Jodrell Bank Observatory in Cheshire which is playing a key role in the international Square Kilometre Array, a project to build the world?s largest radio telescope in the deserts of South Africa and Australia from 2018.
Julian German, the Council’s economy and culture portfolio holder, added: “Cornwall has a long tradition of innovation and leading the world in the development of new technologies and we look forward to working with the public and private sector to realise the potential of this exciting opportunity.”
As well as including Goonhilly, the extension will allow the main Aerohub site at Cornwall Airport Newquay to offer rate relief for a further five years to 2020 at the LEP’s discretion, and businesses will benefit from enhanced tax breaks for investment in plant and machinery.
This includes the 21.7 hectare Aerohub Business Park which has 12 fully serviced plots available for development.
Developing Cornwall’s space and aerospace industries is a priority of the LEP’s strategic economic plan because of the potential to build on existing strengths and create skilled, well-paid jobs.
This could potentially include a spaceport at Newquay Airport, which is one of only three locations in the UK still in the running to host such a facility. It could be a base for commercial civilian space planes to deploy satellites, carry other space payloads, offer space flight experiences and carry out scientific experiments.
The Government is hoping to see a four-fold increase in the value of the UK space sector to £40 billion a year by 2030.