Able UK reveals plans for £400m green energy site
The South Humber Bank is the last strategic development site in the UK fronting a deep water estuary, and is expected to attract £3bn of investment globally over the next decade. The Able Humber Port Facility is a key part of the South Humber Bank masterplan, which is backed by partners including Yorkshire Forward.
Stephenson said: “The benefit of the facilities on the Humber is that it’s a very good location central to the North Sea and the UK. There are a lot of environmental as well as economic benefits to the application.
“A lot of companies will be working on the same site so it should make things much safer and speed up time from the research and development stage to construction.”
Able is looking to develop the site with a main contractor for the marine side, and lease the finished space out to clients. The project is funded by bank facilities, although Able hopes to attract Government funding.
Stephenson said: “If you look at the Budget, what the Government is hoping to do is encourage private sector companies to do more infrastructure work such as ports and harbours.”
While the logistics and business park will create 4,454 jobs, the Marine Energy Park could lead to 5,100 on-site, 5,100 in the region and 2,300 in the rest of the UK. A further 10,400 indirect jobs in North Lincolnshire and 2,400 in the region could also be created.
Able itself has been involved in projects such as the dismantling of the BP North West Hutton oil platform in the North Sea, as well as the controversial dismantling of four high-asbestos US Navy “ghost ships” in Hartlepool.
The company employed 450 people at the time of the project, but is now at 350 as those dealing with asbestos remedial work were not required after the completion of the task.
It has planning permission for two biomass plants on Teesside, as well as an application in the works for a gas power station on its site in Doncaster.
Stephenson was nominated as a regional finalist in 2010’s Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year awards. The overall winner will be revealed in October.
The Humber development will create 12,500 direct jobs, mostly in North Lincolnshire, and cascade at least that again into regional economy. Teesside would benefit from the trickle down effect, said Mr Stephenson, who was frustrated in his previous attempt to launch a similar project in 2003/4.
“We tried to develop on Teesside but that got delayed and we lost the opportunity. In the meantime the world and the UK has moved.”
Instead, Able would concentrate on attracting cabling and foundation specialists to its three sites on the Tees while creating a hub for manufacturers supplying fully assembled turbines to the Dogger Bank, Hornsea and Norfolk Bank offshore wind areas where 5,000 turbines will need to be delivered over the next 10 years.
Dogger Bank alone is estimated to be worth £100bn to manufacturers.
Able’s investment would be welcomed by everyone in the industry, said Andy Williamson, business development director for the National Renewable Energy Centre at Blyth.
“If you are going to build this industry in Britain you are going to have to build more than one strategic hub. Single projects like Dogger Bank are going to be so significant that all the available land that we have is going to play a part in delivering it.
“Everybody in the industry will applaud private sector investment to help the supply chain flourish, but we will need government support. Those that are making these big strategic investments in manufacturing want to know the UK government is committed. We are committed on policy we are committed on R&D, we need to be committed on manufactuing,” he said.
Able will build a new operational centre as part of the Marine Energy Park complex, but when asked if it would remain a Teesside headquartered company, he replied: “Yes, without a doubt.”