'Clean tech' hub on old landfill site eyes top end anchor tenant
A major new £9.5m green business hub is hoping to attract a major multinational firm as a key tenant in Belfast's biggest regeneration project.
The new 'clean tech' hub is aiming to turn 30 acres of land in the Giant's Park development into Northern Ireland's first business centre for renewable and recycling industry firms.
And the project, which is being run by Belfast City Council along with EU and Invest NI funding, is on the hunt for companies from across the globe, with hopes of filling the area by 2020.
The entire development takes up 340 acres, and it is owned by Belfast City Council. Those behind the scheme believe that, once completed, it could be worth more than £100m to the city's economy.
During a tour of the project, on which work has already started on the infrastructure, Gerry Millar, Belfast City Council's director of property and projects, told how there "had been interest in the area over the years".
He said he hoped the site would be full with new businesses within the next five years.
"We would expect the first people to be on the site next year," Mr Millar added.
"In terms of making it viable and paying us rents, you would probably want 20 acres developed by 2020/21."
Much of the area of the development was once a major landfill for the city. And some of the gas created as a result of the decomposition of the rubbish is already being extracted and converted into energy, before being sold back to the grid.
Among the other projects earmarked for the Giant's Park development are a solar farm on the south side, along with an anaerobic digester.
David McNellis, director of commercial property firm Lisney, has been tasked with attracting suitable companies from across Northern Ireland and the wider world to the project.
He said: "By and large, it's companies in the 'clean tech' industry, and more specifically environmental, low carbon and renewable businesses.
"There are a lot out there across Great Britain, the Republic and further afield."
Mr McNellis added he had been publicising Northern Ireland's impending corporation tax cut in a bid to attract businesses to these shores. He also revealed his hopes to land a large multinational company, which could act as an anchor client to the huge project.
"It's down to the strength of the market," Mr McNellis said. "By and large, it will be some new guys and some established."
The project is now taking initial expressions of interest from firms across the globe, as well as those closer to home.
Formal bids are expected by February, with further announcements as to which firms may be moving in expected to be announced by the middle of 2016.
SDLP councillor Declan Boyle, who attended the launch yesterday, said: "Although this is a new and ambitious market for us, Belfast is perfectly placed to take advantage of the growing clean tech sector in the UK and Ireland."