Work has begun on a GBP 600,000 refurbishment programme at Blyth’s historic docks, with the removal of a 70-tonne dry-dock gate, the Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult said.
The docks site, now occupied by ORE Catapult, has over the past five years been the testing ground for some of the next generation technologies being developed for the offshore renewables sector – from cable laying techniques to trenchers and remotely-operated vehicles (ROVs).
This investment, beginning with the refurbishment of the gate, is expected to put the site at the heart of the renewables energy revolution and enable ORE Catapult to maximise the use of its saltwater testing environment to support businesses and bring new products to market. Future technologies to be tested there will include robotic underwater inspection vehicles and new anti-corrosive materials for wind turbine foundations.
ORE Catapult’s David Hailes is managing the project, which got underway with the removal of the 70-tonne gate between the dry dock and the Blyth Estuary that has been in place since the 1980s.
“The history of the harbour is a source of great pride for everyone working here and it’s a constant source of inspiration to hear some of the stories from its past. This extensive refurbishment will mean we can continue to be at the forefront of innovation for years to come,” Hailes said.
Removing the dry-dock gate from its home of more than 30 years required a 750-tonne crane, with local consultant Fairhurst working alongside contractors KGAL and AMCO to complete its refurbishment.
“Blyth harbour is at the very heart of this community so from the beginning we’ve determined to use local contractors wherever possible. We want as much of the local area to benefit from this extensive refurbishment as possible,” said Hailes.
The investment programme will also see upgrades to the Catapult’s renewable energy test and demonstration facilities, which includes 50 and 100m blade testing halls, large-scale drive train test facilities, and materials and electrical laboratories.