Wallsend shipyard's £50m plan for 600 wind turbine jobs

THE owner of a former Tyneside shipyard is preparing to invest £50m in converting part of the site into a facility to make wind turbine foundations – creating hundreds of jobs.

THE owner of a former Tyneside shipyard is preparing to invest £50m in converting part of the site into a facility to make wind turbine foundations – creating hundreds of jobs.

OGN Group is already using a section of Hadrian Yard in Wallsend to build an oil production platform for American firm Apache, a deal which is worth £150m and has seen around 700 workers brought into the site. It now wants to build a facility on-site for the construction of jacket foundations for offshore wind turbines. The 36,000-square metre facility could be completed as early as 2013, and chief technical officer Graham Kennedy said it could potentially provide “in excess of 600 jobs”.

“The bottom line is that we’re going to be a mass production facility for these jackets, and it’s for that reason that we’re hoping to be undergoing this redevelopment”, he said.

“We’re not just chasing UK contracts, we’re going after the Dutch, Belgian and German sectors as well. There’s only really one yard that’s been working along these lines and that’s in Scotland, and if there’s about 600 or 700 of these to be made per year, it’s not like any one company is going to get the lot.”

Plans for the project are likely to be submitted to North Tyneside Council in the new year, and the company is hoping to get the plan through the entire planning process before Easter. Mr Kennedy said: “We have a lot of work to do on the yard, including new foundations, building the shed and fitting it out with specialist equipment.

“This will be running 24 hours a day and 365 days a year, and will be set up with three production lines running in parallel.”

Elsewhere on the yard, the company’s work on the Apache contract is progressing, with the structure due to be ready for transportation in July next year.

Mr Kennedy said OGN has already been talking to companies about potential new contracts to replace the Apache work when finished, and the site was recently visited by a UK operator as part of a discussion about “a job of a similar size or maybe a little bigger”.

He said: “We’re busy chasing other ones and we’ve got inquiries coming in.

“We’re going to have a mixed portfolio. Originally we thought of switching over to renewables entirely. We set off with that plan two years ago but changed our mind. There’s good work out there for oil and gas.

“Right now we’re tendering for all sorts of projects, not just Apache size. It’s re-emphasising what the yard can do. It saw a lot of offshore structures in years gone by, and this says there’s life in the place yet.”

Page 2 - UK 'on target to cut emissions by 2020'

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UK 'on target to cut emissions by 2020'

THE UK is on track to exceed targets to slash emissions by a third by 2020 – and would have met the goal even without the recession, the Government said yesterday.

The "carbon plan", detailing progress on and future plans for reducing greenhouse gases, suggests that even without the economy contracting, green policies would be delivering a 34% emissions cut by the end of the decade.

Speaking before he travels to South Africa for the latest UN climate talks, Climate Change Secretary Chris Huhne said the plan showed the UK was "walking the walk" on global warming, and tackling the issue was "achievable and affordable".

After George Osborne’s autumn statement included little on the low-carbon economy and used language seen in some quarters as "anti-green", Mr Huhne insisted the Chancellor backed efforts to tackle climate change.

The Climate Change Secretary said Mr Osborne had brought in green policies including the green investment bank and a carbon floor price and had agreed the fourth carbon budget which will slash emissions by half by the mid 2020s.

Mr Huhne said that the UK was absolutely committed to meeting its targets to cut emissions and that such a move would present big business opportunities.

So far progress has been made on "easy wins" such as replacing millions of boilers with more efficient, condensing models, which save householders around £95 on their bills a year, and insulating lofts and cavity walls.

Over the coming decade, cost-effective measures will continue, including more loft and cavity wall insulation, more efficient boilers and power stations switching from coal to gas.

The Government predicts there will be no extra costs in this Parliament on making progress towards halving emissions by 2025.

But meeting the goal in the 2020s will require large scale deployment of technology such as electric vehicles and heat pumps to warm homes, renewables, nuclear power and measures to capture and store emissions from power stations.

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