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Ship breaker Able UK to invest £100m in Humber site

THE North East firm involved in the controversial "ghost ships" dismantling project has submitted plans to develop 1,300 acres of land on the Humber as part of huge expansion plans.

Able UK on Teesside
Able UK on Teesside

THE North East firm involved in the controversial "ghost ships" dismantling project has submitted plans to develop 1,300 acres of land on the Humber as part of huge expansion plans.

Able UK, of Billingham, is putting forward proposals for land north of Immingham on the south bank of the Humber estuary, where it says it plans to invest £100m in a sprawling industrial complex to include transport depots, warehousing, a business park and a hotel.

The development will also include road and rail links to Immingham port and the Humber Sea Terminal as well as a bioethanol plant, for which Able already has planning permission.

The firm has been at the site for 10 years, during which it has developed 200 acres – where vehicle storage specialist GBA currently stores up to 35,000 vehicles.

Able said the money for the 11-year scheme was coming out of its own funds as it was in relatively good financial health despite the recession.

It said the development would benefit from £1.5bn of investment in the area from incoming tenants and the creation of 5,000 jobs when it opens for business in 2020.

The land is the largest site available for port-related developments in the UK and, as well as providing 2.5 million sq ft of storage space, also includes 340 acres of green space which the firm hopes to use for landscaping and provision of areas for wildlife.

It has already welcomed several companies to the initial 200-acre site, including Spanish glass fibre manufacturer Ursa Insulation, which opened a £66m plant on the South Humber Bank last year.

Able UK chairman Peter Stephenson said: “We have been developing our interests in the area over the past decade and share the views of central government, Yorkshire Forward, North Lincolnshire Council, and the newly created South Humber Gateway Board that development of the South Humber Bank is of national and international importance.”

In the North East the firm is continuing its work to dismantle four US Navy “ghost ships” in Hartlepool and said their high asbestos content would be completely removed in a few weeks, with the project due for completion in about September.

The ships have been the focus of a long debate over pollution, with the company receiving the go-ahead from Hartlepool Borough Council only in 2007, having applied for a licence in 2003.

It is also working on French aircraft carrier Clemenceau, which also attracted negative publicity after it was considered too toxic for Indian breakers’ yards, and the company expects to complete breaking the 32,780 tonne vessel by September.

The firm, which employs about 450 people, is also dismantling the BP North West Hutton Oil Platform in the northern North Sea, with the steel to be brought to Billingham for recycling.

 

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