TWO separate bids have been drawn up to make access to East Lancashire’s new enterprise zone more straightforward.

The Lancashire Enterprise Partnership (LEP) is behind the chief submission, to the government’s Local Infrastructure Fund (LAF), for a share of £59million to improve links to the area around BAE Systems, at Samlesbury.

And a further £1.59million is being sought from the Department of Transport’s Pinch Point Fund, to pay for a traffic light junction on the A59 to serve the enterprise zone.

The county council would fork out £637,000, with the Pinch Point Fund, designed to foster ‘growth corridors’, providing the rest.

Edwin Booth, chairman of LEP, commenting on the LAF bid, said: “I welcome this new funding pot, which could certainly help us to accelerate our plans.

“We’re hopeful the government will look favourably on our bid, given the strong progress we’ve already made in preparing for businesses to set up in our enterprise zone.”

The LEP enterprise zone is centred on BAE’s sites at Samlesbury and Warton, focusing on attracting advanced engineering and manufacturing firms, and creating up to 6,000 highly-skilled positions. Fifteen companies are said to be interested in moving to the enterprise zone, including some new arrivals to the UK.

Work should start at Samlesbury later this year, with the first ventures opening there in early 2014.