Millions of pounds of investment at the Blackpool Airport Enterprise Zone has been approved for the coming year – including towards creating ultra-fast data centres dubbed Silicon Sands.
It is hoped the move will put the resort at the forefront of advances in data transfer technology. The enterprise zone is already halfway towards its target of creating 5,000 new jobs on the Fylde coast by 2041.
Blackpool Council’s executive approved recommendations to further develop the enterprise zone as part of investment totalling £84m, when it met on Monday, December 11. Developments include a new road providing a second access to Amy Johnson Way from Common Edge Road, with work due to start early next year and completed before March 2026, as a requirement of the £7.5m grant from the Town Deal.
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Councillors have also approved proposals to create a new high-tech business park called Silicon Sands, centred around a series of data centres powered by renewable energy.
It is hoped Silicon Sands would attract new businesses which require ultra-fast internet speeds, such as advanced manufacturing, virtual reality and esports, making the most of the CeltixConnect-2 internet cable, which carries up to one-third of the world’s internet traffic via Blackpool Airport.
The cable sends data from Blackpool to New York under the sea in less than 0.064 seconds and offers significant benefits for businesses that need ultra-fast and reliable internet. The data centres would be powered by renewable energy with any excess heat reused to heat surrounding buildings.
The vision also includes Blackpool’s first solar farm and a battery storage plant. Coun Mark Smith, cabinet member for Levelling Up (Place), said: “Our plans at Silicon Sands show we can make Blackpool a leading location for high-tech jobs of the future while tackling the climate emergency at the same time.
“Having data centres with ultra-fast connections as part of the enterprise zone will help us stand out as a leading destination for growing technology companies. This will bring more high-quality, future-proof jobs to the town and increase opportunities for our local people.”
A proposed first data centre would be built on land off Squires Gate Lane, on the site of Blackpool Airport’s old fire station and engineering yard, which was demolished in March.
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