Green light for UK offshore hub

The UK government has given the green light to a £450m ($736m) port development in the northeast of England that aims to serve as a major hub for the country’s offshore wind sector.

The Able Marine Energy Park received final planning permission today from the UK’s transport secretary, clearing the way for construction work to begin early next year on the south bank of the Humber Estuary.

Able founder and chairman Peter Stephenson said its 1.3km quay will be available from late 2016.

The project has been waiting for the final go-ahead for some time, and the developers expressed frustration at repeated delays. It recently secured a commitment in principle from Austrian construction firm Strabag to site an offshore wind foundation plant there.

The 367-hectare energy park site is just across the water from the Alexandra dock site earmarked by Siemens for a potential UK offshore turbine factory.

Stephenson claimed the decision would prove the catalyst to spark an explosion of renewable energy-related companies in the Humber region. On its own the development is slated to create 4,000 jobs.

“It provides the opportunity, not available at any other UK location, to create a critical mass of activity—not only producing wind turbines and their foundations but also providing a base for offshore installation," Stephenson said.

“The Humber is ideally placed in close proximity to the world’s largest proposed offshore wind farms and, coupled with the scale of the site, the inherent strengths of local people and local businesses, we have the very best package to offer the emerging offshore wind sector.”

The decision was immediately welcomed by industry body RenewableUK, which said: “This is a real cause for celebration in this season of good cheer, not just for Able Marine Energy Park, but for the whole offshore wind sector in the UK.

“It is testament to a continuing sense of long term confidence in the offshore wind sector, which is at the very heart of our green energy future.”