Port operator urged to drop legal action over marine energy park

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Port company ABP is being urged to drop the threat of legal action after MPs rejected its challenge to a £440m marine energy park.

It came after objections from Associated British Ports to the Able Marine Energy Park at North Killingholme, in north 
Lincolnshire, were thrown 
out by a committee of peers and MPs.

The move paves the way for the 900-acre site with almost 1.3km of deep water quays to be developed to manufacture, assemble, store and ship out the next generation of offshore wind turbines to vast new farms in the North Sea.

Cleethorpes MP Martin Vickers said he hoped the scheme, which aims to create 4,000 jobs, could now go ahead after being “tested to destruction at every stage.” He said: “There is always the possibility of a legal challenge.

“I sincerely hope ABP who quite legitimately from their point of view raised objections, I hope everyone now will recognise it’s for the benefit of the whole area, a real boost for jobs.”

Able, which has already begun enabling works on the back of a £15m Government grant, said if ABP did try to halt it again by seeking a judicial review it would be seen as “nothing more than a desperate attempt to retain its virtual monopoly on the Humber.”.

Founder Peter Stephenson said: “Regrettably, ABP’s tactics have meant a further delay of almost a year.

“Of course, ABP have clearly threatened further legal manoeuvres through judicial review.

“But, if they were to pursue that course, it would be seen by everyone as flying in the face of the decisions of the Planning Inspectorate, the Secretary of State and now a Joint Committee of Parliament – nothing more than a desperate attempt to retain its virtual monopoly on the Humber.”

ABP had objected to the compulsory purchase of a triangular piece of land they said they wanted to develop for a deepwater jetty. They said they were considering their options: “We are disappointed that the Parliamentary Joint Committee reached its decision without fully examining all of the evidence.

“The decision has no impact on ABP’s view of the strength of its case and our offer of a substantial compromise would have enabled AMEP to proceed without hindering the future development of the Port of Immingham.

“We will now consider our options. The Port of Immingham is Britain’s busiest port and its continued growth is vital for the nation’s trade and energy security, as well as for the prosperity of the Humber region as a whole.”

The port operator now has six weeks to mount a legal challenge to the scheme, which was given Government goahead a year ago, after repeated delays.

Coun Liz Redfern, leader of North Lincolnshire Council, said: “AMEP is one of the most scrutinised planning applications in the country. The decision has been a long time coming. I am pleased common sense has prevailed and we can now press ahead with the project. This is a major multi-million pound investment that will bring thousands of jobs to North Lincolnshire.

“Any further attempts to delay the development would be extremely disappointing.”

The hopes for thousands more jobs follows in the wake of other positive announcements in the area, including a £7m 100-bed luxury hotel to be built at Humberside Airport, creating 60 jobs. Meanwhile a £23m investment at the Trent Valley Retail Park in Scunthorpe will see Debenhams and Marks & Spencer open today – resulting in a further 300 jobs.