A NEW enterprise zone, which could bring 2,000 jobs to Lancashire, is already attracting interest from several 'big' companies.

Phil Halsall, chief executive of Lancashire County Council, said talks were on-going with a number of UK and overseas companies who are interested in two zones based around BAE Systems' Samlesbury and Warton sites.

The Lancashire Enterprise Zone, which will be launched in April, was given the green light by Chancellor George Osborne last year in the wake of plans by the defence giant to cut jobs.

Under an enterprise zone, new companies are encouraged to relocate to an area and benefit from large tax breaks, relaxed planning laws and super-fast broadband.

Mr Halsall said: "We're getting a lot of interest from big companies, some coming into Lancashire for the first time.

"We're not talking to anybody who wants to move a factory from Burnley to Samlesbury or wants to move to save a few quid. It's not about displacement.

"It is about having large manufacturing and highly skilled jobs there.

"We are interested in companies who want to work in East Lancashire.

"We spoke with an American company who are interested in coming here as they understand there is a good highly skilled workforce."

It is understood that logistics companies handling high-value products are keen to move to the Warton development, due to its secure runway.

At Samlesbury a 180-acre site, including its defunct airfield, will be developed.

Mr Halsall added: "In a way, it's for each company to determine where they prefer.

"Samlesbury is well connected with the motorway network and Warton has its own airfield. They both have their own advantages."

The enterprise zone is being spearheaded by Lancashire County Council, the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership and BAE Systems.