Freddy Shepherd prepares former Swan Hunter yard for its future

Shepherd Offshore has started clean-up work on part of the former Swan Hunter shipbuilding site to ready the area for development

Dredging under way in the Tyne, off the Shepherd Offshore site at the Neptune Yard
Dredging under way in the Tyne, off the Shepherd Offshore site at the Neptune Yard

A clean-up costing £2.2m will clear the way for major investment in job development on the site of a former shipbuilding yard.

Freddy Shepherd’s Shepherd Offshore has been granted planning permission to remediate a 38-acre site on its Neptune Yard.

It comes less than four years after the company shelled out millions to A&P Tyne to take control of the land which once formed part of the famous Swan Hunter shipbuilding site.

Workmen from the renewable energy company are filling in the dry dock on the Enterprize Zone land in Walker, Newcastle.

A spokesman for Shepherd Offshore last night confirmed it is negotiating with a number of businesses interested in using the land once the six-month project is complete.

He said: “This is responsible remediation using inert material to decontaminate a large area on the north bank of the Tyne. We are talking to a number of companies who have shown an interest.”

He added: “It is the culmination of a successful partnership with Newcastle City Council who have been supportive and understanding and will aid the new £7m Newcastle University research and development centre.

It takes the total spend on this site past £5m and will mean the Tyne is once again ahead of the game when it comes to bringing old land back into use.”

It is hoped the scheme – which involves the screening of excavated land and the decontamination of land to encourage inward investment – will be completed by December. The land was once occupied by a fuel tank and fuel storage facilities.

A spokesman for Newcastle City Council said: “This remediation development scheme represents an important step in the preparation of this area for future industrial and commercial development within the Neptune Energy Park.

“The investment in this site within the Walker Riverside is to be welcomed and would in the future lead to the creation of additional jobs following development of the remediated sites.”

The planning permission comes after a £1.2m effort to move silt from the riverbed next to the former Neptune shipyard so that deep-hulled vessels can berth alongside the Park’s 700 tonnes heavy load out pad.

A dredger has spent two months creating an 8.5m deep water berth at the 760- long quay, enabling larger vessels to come alongside for loading and off-loading.

It means the Neptune Energy Park can now store reel products for its existing customers which include GE Oil & Gas, Duco (Technip Umbilical Systems) and Bridon Ropes, all major players in the burgeoning North East offshore industry.

A spokesman said: “This is a vital step forward in attracting more business to the Tyne. It’s a major new facility for the riverside. More than 7,300 tonnes of fabrications, modules and product reels can be stored next to the quayside.

“Nearly 14,000 square metres of developed quayside concrete fabrication and assembly area is available at the deep water quay making it an ideal location to meet the needs of our existing customers and new customers.

“It’s a huge, open concrete space which offers tremendous facilities and makes the Tyne an increasingly attractive place for business.

“There has been a lot of interest shown already, particularly from Aberdeen, which is widely recognised as the oil and gas capital of Europe, and where multi-national companies are looking for extra capacity.”

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