'Pushing boat out' for ports conference
NORTHERN Lincolnshire is to host the British Ports Association's 2013 Ports Conference.
Martyn Boyers, chief executive of Port of Grimsby East, is to bring more than 150 delegates to the area next October for the two-day event, which will take place at Forest Pines Hotel, Broughton, with visits to the major south bank ports.
A focus will be the role in renewables, with biomass and offshore wind energy crucial elements of recent growth.
The burgeoning offshore wind energy operations and maintenance market has seen a huge resurgence in what was known for decades as Grimsby Fish Docks, and while regular landings from trawlers continue, the vast majority of vessel movements are now crew and equipment transfers from land to the turbines either being built or now operational off the Lincolnshire coast.
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Mr Boyers, who chairs the association's Fishing Ports Working Group, said: "We will be making the focus Grimsby, Immingham and the Humber. Grimsby is the centre of UK fish activity, and in terms of ports those on the Humber make up the most commercial estuary in the UK.
"The conference has never been here before, and it is a good opportunity to promote the area. We can really push the boat out!"
It comes in a year that has seen Grimsby's role in offshore wind energy accelerate. More than 20 vessels now operate out of the port.
Mr Boyers said: "The renewables story is a very powerful one, and I would expect it to play an important part of the agenda of the conference.
"People don't get to see the building of these farms, they just see the activity in the port, and it is amazing how local businesses fit into this supply chain, from port operations to engineering, maintenance, general supplies and repairs."
This week will see the official launch of Centrica's multi-million pound operations and maintenance base, a new purpose-built facility on the North Wall, with iconic marine operations gantry.
It comes after the company, together with partners Siemens and RES Offshore, have operated out of temporary buildings on the port estate as first Lynn and Inner Dowsing were built and made operational, and now Lincs.
Utility giant E.on has also committed to Port of Grimsby East – a brand formed by Grimsby Fish Dock Enterprises – for operations and maintenance requirements for Humber Gateway, a Round Two farm located just a few miles off Spurn Point.
More are anticipated, with the likes of Dong Energy and RWE N Power also known to be in the hunt, with RES Offshore also keen to establish a permanent base. As previously reported, a bid for Regional Growth Fund money from Government for this element of the renewables industry has advanced to the next stage of consideration. This assessment is due to take place in coming weeks, headed up by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg.
Created in 1992, the British Ports Association represents the interests of 86 full members, and numerous associate members, to the United Kingdom and devolved governments, the European Union and national and international bodies.
Membership is drawn from many ports, terminal operators and port facilities of varying size, location and nature. The 2012 conference will take place in the Lake District next month, hosted by the Port of Workington.