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Hull wins UK’s first windfarm port scheme

German-owned engineering firm Siemens has signed a memorandum of understanding to develop wind turbine manufacturing facilities at ABP’s proposed Green Port Hull development at Alexandra Dock. However, it is by no means the end of wind energy-related developments in UK ports, commentators from other ports believe. Siemens and ABP said they will work together to develop plans for the construction of a new offshore wind turbine manufacturing and export facility and that definitive agreements would be signed in 2011. It is understood that the development

will be awarded a tranche of the £60 million worth of government funding earmarked to help ports develop facilities for the offshore wind energy industry. One press report suggested that around £20m had gone to the facility, although a spokeswoman for Siemens said the amount quoted “is not a figure generated by either Siemens or ABP.” Whatever the status of the fund, there is

still plenty of scope for other wind-energy- related developments in UK ports, said PD Ports’ development director, Paul Barker, who is spearheading his group’s scheme to build a dedicated supplier park for the industry in Hartlepool. “Naturally, we are disappointed that we didn’t win this particular scheme, but it hasn’t changed our view of the market that there are a range of opportunities available. It’s one piece of the jigsaw, but there is plenty left.” In his view, Siemens’ immediate requirements were too big for the port of Hartlepool in its present form.

However, Siemens choice of Hull was

encouraging in that it had demonstrated that there was a market for wind turbine construction in the UK and also that government support was being made available. Siemens action might also prompt other manufacturers to make a move into the UK market and set up their own facilities, said Barker. Barker declared: “Some

people have clearly filled in the fabled form (to obtain Government funding). Now send us the template.” At North Lincolnshire Council, where

Able UK earlier unveiled plans for a £400m Marine Energy Park tailored to the needs of the wind energy sector on the south bank of the Humber, a spokesman described the Hull announcement as “a real boost for the region that bodes well for North Lincolnshire and the South Humber Gateway. The preferred site for the Siemens development is in Hull but it will help generate thousands of jobs across the Humber as well as acting as a catalyst for the South Humber Gateway.” Other offshore wind companies are now

likely to start coming forward with their plans to put the Humber at the heart of the European renewable energy industry, he added. “If anything, Siemen’s move actually strengthens the case for the new development, because it will whet other manufacturers’ appetites looking to locate in the UK. There are still 4-5 major companies looking come to this country.” Able UK’s application is currently the

subject of a community consultation with the Infrastructure Planning Commission, the new body set up by the previous Labour government to oversee major planning applications. Councillor Mark Kirk, leader of North Lincolnshire Council said: “This is great news for the Humber. We’ve always said this isn’t a competition between the north and south bank, it’s about a competition between the Humber and the rest of the UK and Europe. With the land mass on the south bank, we are all set to take advantage of the associated supply chain, bringing further benefit to both sides of the river.” The one fly in the ointment was the high

tolls charged on the Humber Bridge, currently the subject of intensive lobbying by councils and businesses on both sides of the estuary. With trucks paying £40 for a return trip and private cars £5.40 – before the 11% increase proposed by Humber Bridge Board - local interests argue that the rates charged are harming business and employment prospects in the region.

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