TEESSIDE’S renewable energy industry has been dealt a hard blow with Hartlepool losing out on plans to build a multi million pound wind turbine facility which would have created hundreds of jobs.
Spanish company Gamesa has chosen Leith in Edinburgh as the site of its new manufacturing plant.
Hartlepool had been in the running as the location for the £125m site to build blades for wind turbines, which is set to create around 800 jobs.
Gamesa has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Forth Ports and the two will work together in preparation for a longer term agreement.
The blades, which can be 50m long, will be made for turbines set to be built around the British coast.
Gamesa said its decision to pursue MOU discussions with the Port of Leith followed a detailed process to identify a partner port which would meet the company’s manufacturing and operational requirements whilst providing the optimum commercial solution for the company.
Hartlepool Mayor, Stuart Drummond, said the news was “a bitter blow” for the town.
“A lot of people have worked on this for a year and a half.
“It has come down to a commercial decision and for Hartlepool it’s not to be.”
But he said the town was still pushing ahead with its renewable energy ambitions.
“We’ve not put all our eggs in one basket and discussions are ongoing with other players in the market.
“This has also put Hartlepool on the radar and shown that we can compete with the best in the business.”
David Robinson, the chief executive of Hartlepool’s dockland owners PD Ports, said while disappointing Gamesa’s decision “wasn’t the end of the world”.
“Nobody likes to come second.
“But we’re going to keep pushing Hartlepool and developing in the offshore sector - there are plenty of other major players looking to gain a foothold in the market.
“We also already have two excellent tenants at Hartlepool, with JDR Cables and Heerema, both of which are looking to expand.”
Friends of the Earth’s North-east campaigner, Simon Bowens, added: “Gamesa’s decision will be a big disappointment for Teesside where hopes had been high for the creation of hundreds of much-needed jobs.”
Gamesa established a new research and development facility in Strathclyde last year, currently employing more than 60 engineers, which expects to employ 180 people.