Humber has potential to be a national powerhouse
THE company behind the £400 million port plan that can help realise the Humber's ambition of being Britain's energy estuary, has underlined the need for Government cohesion should it get the backing required.
Able Marine Energy Park (AMEP) is awaiting development consent, due within four months, with the recommendation from the Planning Inspectorate now imminent, following a lengthy examination process.
The decision of the panel behind the 12-month investigation paves the way for the Secretary of State for Transport's decision on the 800-acre site at North Killingholme, capable of hosting several turbine manufacturers, as well as the supporting infrastructure and supply chain.
A substantial deep water quay would allow uninterrupted access for specialist vessels to the southern North Sea, primed for rapid development to meet the nation's energy needs in coming years.
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David Shepherd, group development executive for Able UK, is delighted with the support garnered from civic and industry leaders during the examination, with Humber Local Enterprise Partnership chairman, describing the opportunity as a "jewel in the crown for the UK Government".
Only last week he told the Telegraph how the decision was critical.
Mr Shepherd said: "It is becoming increasingly clear that the South Bank of the Humber is flying the flag for offshore wind developments and there is growing recognition among those companies involved in turbine equipment manufacturing – and those involved in the industry's supply chain – that only AMEP offers the opportunity to develop a port site capable of housing a truly integrated offshore wind cluster without limitations on further growth."
With the potential to create 4,000 jobs in the mid-term, and already benefiting from enterprise zone status, hopes are high that the go-ahead will be given. Lord Haskins has said he feels confident a positive outcome will emerge, with such a unique opportunity capable of competing with what mainland Europe has to offer.
"What we need is for the Government to recognise that fact and give the approvals which can enable the Humber to fulfil the potential so many recognise," said Mr Shepherd, who worked as international development manager with regional development agency Yorkshire Forward for five years, prior to joining Teesside-based Able UK.
He added: "If Government departments can work seamlessly we provide an opportunity to blend current policy direction with a strategy to capture real industrial growth and jobs.
"Getting it right requires the South Humber Bank to be developed, unlocking the Humber Estuary's potential to become a powerhouse of the national economy, making it the UK's Energy Estuary for years to come.
"The next few months will determine whether Lord Haskins' hopes – and indeed the hopes of the entire area – for the Humber to become a world-class centre for renewable energy developments can become a reality."
How the Humber still has everything to play for in offshore wind, despite increasing competition. See tomorrow's Telegraph.