Ports across Britain are being transformed with the energy sector driving much of this revitalisation and growth.
Here in the North East the Port of Tyne has posted record results and further north, the Port of Blyth had record sales of £17m last year. The closure of Rio Tinto Alcan at Lynemouth, Northumberland, last year saw 500 workers lose their jobs, but Port of Blyth chief executive Martin Lawlor says developments planned for the port could see as many new jobs created in the renewable energy sector.
Lawlor said: “We are hoping to announce the arrival of new development on the site of the former Bates Colliery in the next couple of months. The idea is to join up to Wimbourne Quay and Narec, linking together as one energy base.”
In addition to the nine-hectare Bates site, the former Blyth Power Station site – much larger at 25 hectares-plus – has also attracted interest from energy companies.
Lawlor said: “We already have approaching 500 jobs directly on the estuary and we’d like to think we could double that.”
Renewable energy company RES has been given the green light to build a £250m biomass power station at Port of Blyth’s Battleship Wharf terminal. The RES development will bring to £400m the investment on Battleship Wharf over the past 10 years. Lawlor said: “This reaffirms our position as one of the most prominent renewable energy-related ports in the UK.”
Earlier this year the Port of Sunderland said it was back in profit after seeing the number of commercial vessels increase by some 84% year on year. A growing number of firms, including some major players operating in the offshore field such as LV Shipping and AJ Woods, have chosen Port of Sunderland as their base.
Matthew Hunt, port director said: “Last year was an exceptional year for us. We are seeing more and more evidence that the work we have done to position Sunderland as a prime location for firms in the offshore renewable energy and subsea engineering fields is working.”
International offshore wind turbine manufacturers have been actively scouring the east coast searching out potential ports from which to deliver new capacity.
This interest from these global players has led to renewed activity at some of Britain’s forgotten ports.
Methil Port, north of Edinburgh, once the focus of Scotland’s coal exports, is now home to a Samsung offshore wind testing facility.
Belfast Harbour, where Harland and Wolff built the RMS Titanic has spent £50m preparing a 50-acre site for Dong Energy. And the Port of Ardersier recently filed plans to turn a yard on the Moray Firth into a turbine manufacturing port.