City aims to clean up with hi-tech hub on foreshore

Cllr Declan Boyle, right, chair of Belfast City Council's strategic policy and resources committee with Lisney director David McNellis, pictured amid the construction now underway for the Cleantech Hub at Giant's Park
Cllr Declan Boyle, right, chair of Belfast City Council's strategic policy and resources committee with Lisney director David McNellis, pictured amid the construction now underway for the Cleantech Hub at Giant's Park

Green technology investors, developers and occupiers are being offered the chance to put down roots in Belfast as the city council launches its bid to develop a world class clean tech development hub at Giant’s Park.

From the former landfill site on the city’s north foreshore, the council has now launched a marketing campaign to attract individuals and firms interested in developing at a £9.5 million Cleantech Hub currently under construction on the southern portion of the site.

The project is being funded with £3.5 million from the city, £2m from Invest Northern Ireland and £4m from the European Regional Development Fund, under the Sustainable Competitiveness Programme for the province.

The new hub - the first of its kind in Northern Ireland - is expected to create up to 400 jobs in environmental, renewables, low carbon and other cleantech industries, and lever in investment of up to £105m for Belfast once fully developed.

Those specialising in sustainable technologies are being invited to submit expressions of interest by January 2016 for plots within the roughly 30 acre site.

“This is a unique opportunity for cleantech companies to be at the heart of cutting edge research, innovation and product development, with firms working side by side to tackle the biggest economic and environmental challenges of the 21st century,” said Declan Boyle, chair of the council’s strategic policy and resources committee.

“Although this is a new and ambitious market for us, Belfast is perfectly placed to take advantage of the growing cleantech sector in the UK and Ireland and become a world leader in this field, with the right mix of skilled workers, an accessible, central location, low operating costs and competitive rates.”

Works to install over 1,700m of roads and set up key services within the Cleantech Hub - the first major development to get underway at the park - began in May.

“Through our City Centre Regeneration and Investment Strategy, we have undertaken a range of projects to transform our city by creating additional revenue and employment opportunities, from the extended Belfast Waterfront to the new community hub at Girdwood,” said Cllr Boyle.

“Opening up this massive area for development provides a further opportunity to create jobs and bring in additional rates which can, in turn, be reinvested back into the city and local communities.”

With access to all major roads and ports, Giant’s Park is ideally suited to house both new and existing green tech firms. The site is already home to an existing landfill gas to renewable electricity conversion plant, powering around 2,500 homes.

“There are over 800 cleantech companies located throughout Northern Ireland, and the Cleantech Hub represents a strong opportunity to cluster their activities together in order to drive synergies and innovation,” said David McNellis, director of Lisney, the agents for the site.

“Belfast is already regarded as one of the most business friendly cities of its size, with more than 800 international companies investing in Northern Ireland in recent years. This scheme will now firmly position the city as a leading destination for green technology, enhancing the profile of the sector here, as well as generating interest beyond these shores.”