MORE than 1,200 jobs could be created by a port’s plans to expand its facilities.
The Port of Tyne is confident of striking deals with energy firms which could lead to a £180m investment to kick-start an increase in its wood pellet stores.
“It is in renewable energy where we see the next major area of growth for us,” said chief executive Andrew Moffat.
“That is why we are working with major companies in the power generation industry to identify their future requirements and making sure we will be ready to meet their needs.
“These are very significant plans for the Port of Tyne which are imperative for both the sustainability of the port and the future delivery of the Government’s carbon reduction targets.
The port is submitting planning applications to extend its quay by 100m and provide additional facilities for wood pellets including storage, conveyors and a new railway line.
It is already the largest handler of the pellets in Europe, and the plans are to expand its storage of pellets, which are sold to power stations, and the associated quay and rail links.
If they are passed and the port wins the contracts for the plans, they will create 900 jobs in construction and 300 more permanent jobs, although not necessarily working for the port.
Mr Moffat said he was confident of winning the contracts and finding an investment partner.
The firm said this will take its impact on the regional economy to well over £500m in gross value added each year, and increase the number of jobs supported by 20%, to a total of 12,000 jobs.
The port, once world-famous for coal exports and more recently coal imports, has increasingly pinned its hopes on renewable energy.
It has worked for years building these plans for the south of the river alongside plans covering the north estate for a massive wind turbine manufacturing site. It is in advanced talks with potential partners.
“The port is on target for another year of record turnover and profit,” added Mr Moffat.
“To continue to survive and thrive, we must maintain a competitive advantage and these forward- thinking plans will enable us to do just that, significantly increasing the port’s impact on the regional economy.”
South Shields Labour MP David Miliband, said: “This is very good news for South Shields and the surrounding communities.
“The port’s vision and ambition ultimately will provide the jobs we very much need in this area now and for the future, and importantly, is supporting the growth of renewable fuels to provide the clean, green energy we need for the future.”
Coun Iain Malcolm, leader of South Tyneside Council, added: “This will further strengthen South Tyneside’s position as a key player in the renewables and green energy industries, as well as creating new jobs in the borough and the wider North East.
“The council is making major investments to attract new jobs to the borough and to transform our town centres, and this development will complement those initiatives.”
Further plans under consideration for the future of the Tyne Dock Estate include facilities for offshore engineering and development of buildings including a new headquarters.
The port is also investing in an extra gantry crane which will support its container terminal business. The £6m machine will be delivered later this year.
This is a quote which will run for four lines and no more with artwork drop quote marks for neatness