Giant site with potential for 4,000 jobs awaits go-ahead

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WITH as big a name as Siemens poised to set up a £200m factory at its site at Alexandra Dock, it is unsurprising that Associated British Ports’s ‘Green Port Hull’ project has become something of a byword for the Humber’s offshore wind industry.

But across the water on the south bank, an equally important development is taking shape that has the potential to dwarf even that iconic Siemens factory, should it get the green light.

Landowner Able UK’s Marine Energy Park is still awaiting planning permission, with a final decision due from Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin before the end of May.

The scale of the site at Killingholme marshes is unparalleled amongst potential offshore wind ports anywhere in the UK, covering more than 600 acres.

“We have the opportunity here to house numerous manufacturers here,” said group business executive David Shepherd.

“We’re talking two or three different equipment manufacturers and then firms which will supply them with the component parts.

“Other sites are basically ports for one manufacturer – we are a whole cluster,” he said.

The total number of jobs created on the site is expected to be in excess of 4,000, along with many more in ancillary industries along the supply chain.

The next, crucial step for Able, however, is winning planning permission. An examination in public was concluded by the national Infrastructure Planning Commission at the end of November. It will deliver its report to Mr McLoughlin, including a recommendation on how to proceed, by the end of next week. He then has three more months to announce his decision.

“We’re extremely confident we will get there,” Mr Shepherd said. “We’ve spent a long time and many millions of pounds getting to this point.”

All eyes will then turn to the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC), which is due to announce the level of long-term subsidy on offer to wind farm developers – known in the industry as the ‘strike price’ – later this summer.

“Getting the strike price right is obviously key,” Mr Shepherd said.

“At that point we can start speaking to our customers as orders will start to be placed.”