By Marcus Leach

New changes to the Tier 1 immigration rules will make it easier and faster for foreign entrepreneurs and investors with large amounts of money to invest to come to the UK, in a move aimed to give a boost to the country’s economy and encourage innovation to lift the country out of recession.

For counties like Somerset, which already has a dedicated inward investment team, this is welcome news. The Into Somerset team has been targeting foreign investors for some time in order to raise awareness of the vast range of opportunities within the county, particularly in thriving industries such as renewable and low carbon energy, aerospace and advanced engineering, business services and much more.

Exciting developments in the renewable and low carbon energy markets in particular offer an exceptional opportunity for both UK-based and foreign investors. The renewable energy industry is set for significant growth as traditional energy sources become less readily available and ever more costly, and Somerset is perfectly positioned in the ‘Golden Triangle’ of ideal solar conditions below the M4 corridor, meaning it is a perfect location for harnessing solar energy. It boasts some of the most progressive renewable energy initiatives in the country, including a ground mounted PV array, which will be one of the very first of its type in the country.

Meanwhile, EDF Energy’s plans to build a third-generation nuclear power station at Hinkley Point on the Somerset coast will see £10billion of investment generated between now and 2018 if the project goes ahead. The development would provide 20-25,000 jobs during the construction phase, with around 5,600 people working on the site during the peak construction period and many more in the supply chain off site. In its initial stages, this would involve a huge range of industries, from design and construction companies to professional services, catering suppliers and much more, providing numerous opportunities for inward investors of all sizes and across a broad range of disciplines.