Wind firm harbours a grand plan for Grimsby's Royal Dock
PLANS for a new harbour to serve one of the biggest players in the offshore wind industry have been revealed – and it is located within Grimsby's Royal Dock.
Associated British Ports is behind the multi-million-pound development, which is set to support Dong Energy's Westermost Rough windfarm, in both construction and ongoing operations and maintenance.
The scheme, in the shadow of the Dock Tower, builds on the huge strides already made by the town in the burgeoning sector.
As exclusively revealed by the Telegraph, Dong wants to come to Grimsby, the first port of call for most of the southern North Sea developments.
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The documents published as part of the early stages of the planning process for what is being referred to as Royal Dock Harbour Port Of Grimsby, reveal the extent of the ambition for that relationship.
The desire is to create 30 to 40 jobs, though contracts have not yet been signed.
The Danish state-owned company, formed through work in oil and natural gas, has approached ABP for help in establishing a safe haven for vessels working on the £800 million scheme off the East Yorkshire coast.
The result is the proposed creation of a small tidal basin in the north east corner of the dock, offering lock-free access to the Humber and beyond.
John Fitzgerald, port director for Grimsby and Immingham, said: "This is just the start of the application process. Potential designs are being finalised for what is a very exciting project and another major investment in the Port Of Grimsby.
"The procedures are underway, and we are all optimistic. Once again, it puts the spotlight on Port Of Grimsby as the UK centre for offshore operations and maintenance, which includes Port Of Grimsby East as well as the commercial docks.
"We, as a town, have Centrica, E.on and RES, and hopefully we will have one of the biggest names in offshore wind."
The works, estimated to take eight months, would involve the reinstating of a second entrance to the 161-year-old port, via the 45ft lock pit to the east of the Dock Tower, that is currently blocked.
New floodgates, as well as a causeway separating it from the remainder of the dock, running from the eastern walls to the island from which the town's iconic landmark stems, is also part of the proposal.
Two new pontoons within the harbour, capable of welcoming at least ten of the fast craft that ferry tools and personnel between land and wind farm, are also part of the indicative design.
A 71-page document has been submitted to North East Lincolnshire Council as part of a request for a screening opinion on whether an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is required for the works, understood to fall under permitted development legislation for the port industry.
A similar request is being made to the Marine Management Organisation.
Simon Brett, deputy port manager for ABP Grimsby And Immingham, said: "This could set Grimsby up. Not just for Round Two, but Round Three and beyond."
Mr Fitzgerald added: "This is future-proofing Grimsby for the biggest schemes."
The Royal Dock was originally designed to be entered by one of two locks either side of the central island which houses the Dock Tower. The western lock was 300ft in length and 70ft wide, while the eastern element – to be opened up if this proposal is furthered – was only 200ft by 45ft.
A decision was taken in the 1970s to construct a roadway across the mouth of the smaller lock, giving access to the Dock Tower and restricting its use to a lay by berth only, as it has remained to this day.
The causeway could create a new access road to the tower.
Construction is due to start on the 35-turbine farm in early 2014, with tight deadlines understood to be the order of the day.
The recently launched £10 million Regional Growth Fund for such infrastructure on the south bank could also help to seal the deal as the feasibility is further considered in Denmark.
North East Lincolnshire Council is now consulting on the EIA requirement, with a decision due early next month.
THERE is further good news for Grimsby and North East Lincolnshire today as we reveal more planned developments and proposals for the growing offshore wind farm industry.
The whole issue of green energy is a controversial one and it does not have full support from all – there are those who believe it is not particularly efficient and will not serve the nation’s needs into the future.
But, one thing is for sure – this country must look for different energy sources and all methods of green usage must be examined, offshore wind being one of many.
Reliance on traditional energy supplies is not an option and while some methods may not be as successful as others, no-one knows until they are tried and tested.
In addition, such developments are creating jobs and opportunity for many, offering a whole new future for North East Lincolnshire, and beyond.
We cannot overlook that fact – if new ways of supplying energy can be found alongside the new future that could be provided for many, then no-one should stand in the way of these developments.
*What do you think of new energy and the development it could bring – comment on this below. Follow the editor on Twitter @michellelalor