Port Business Leader Urges Maritime Sector to Work Together on Offshore Revolution (UK)


A DIRECTOR of a Humber-based port business is urging the government and maritime industry to work more closely together to secure thousands of offshore wind power jobs.

Richard Brough OBE, managing director of Jenkins Ports Services Ltd, said there is no one organisation ensuring the UK’s ports and maritime industry has a coordinated approach to taking full advantage of the green energy revolution.

It comes as major wind turbine manufacturers look to locate huge manufacturing plants in ports across the country, particularly on the east coast of England – potentially creating about 65,000 jobs by 2020. These assembly bases will supply hi-tech turbines for the world’s largest offshore wind farms, planned for the North Sea.

However, speaking at a national event tomorrow (May 10) on the role the UK’s ports and maritime industry will play in offshore wind energy, Mr Brough will outline the need for better “cohesion” to ensure areas were ready to meet the skills requirements of the turbine manufacturers and their vast supply chain.

Mr Brough said: “There is a lack of coordination at the moment, which is a potentially serious omission. Lots of ports and regions are doing wonderful things to attract, and prepare for, offshore turbine manufacturers, with several strategic bodies coming together.

“But there needs to be cohesion nationally, so that these pockets of excellence are not in isolation. This is difficult to achieve, because different port locations are competing for business, such as the east of England, North East and the Humber area.

“However, there has be a cross-pollination of best practice to allow us, as an industry, to understand what the exact needs of the offshore wind industry are and how we going to meet these demands in terms of jobs and skills.”

Jenkins Port Services Ltd (JPS) is based on King George Dock in Hull, East Yorkshire, and is part of the Jenkins Shipping Group, which has 30 years’ experience in the ports and logistics sector in nine locations across the UK, JPS works with companies such as Associated British Ports, P&O Ferries, Titan Cement, PD Ports, DFDS and Port of Sunderland.

Jenkins is well-positioned to work with the offshore wind market, having spent £100,000 on training over the last three years to ensure it has a 140-strong workforce with a wide range of skills, including mobile harbour crane driving. This means it can provide a skilled labour supply to renewables firms and to those companies who need to “back-fill” positions vacated by employees who choose to take advantage of new jobs created by green energy firms.

And the company’s Hull base is close to the Green Port Hull development, where a proposed Siemens wind turbine assembly plant could be built – employing up to 900 people directly.

Mr Brough said: “There’s a great buzz around ports at the moment – this is a genuine, good news story for businesses and individuals.

“The proposed Siemens plant in Hull will produce 300 turbines a year and much of the material and components of these will be brought into the port. So, even if you are not going to be working directly with the likes of Siemens, there is going to be an increased amount of trade coming through the ports, leading to a significant multiplier effect for the economy, with more people having more money to spend locally.”

Mr Brough said the demise of regional development agencies such as Yorkshire Forward had placed “greater emphasis” on the need for a new group to bring together all those involved in this emerging offshore industry.

He said: “I believe there has to be partnership, comprising both private enterprise and the public sector, to get a better handle on what is taking place in the offshore wind industry and provide more over-arching coordination.

“We do need a champion for the ports sector in particular. Time is of the essence and, at the moment, no one body can supply details on the number of jobs and the types of skills and qualifications the offshore industry wants ports and other sectors to provide.

“Siemens will create between 800 and 900 jobs in Hull, but where will the company recruit them from? Obviously, there is huge potential in people with transferrable skills in the petrochemical, oil and gas industries, as well as other businesses , young people leaving school or college and of course the unemployed.

“But what we need to be mindful of is when these people leave their current positions, there will be back-filling to be done to replace them. We need to be ready and have the capacity to do this.”

Port owners and operators, maritime business leaders, wind turbine manufacturers and government policy advisors will be among those at tomorrow’s conference, entitled Preparing For The Offshore Wind Revolution, at a Westminster venue in London. Mr Brough’s speech will focus on the workforce requirements developers are looking to ports and the wider community to provide as the UK steps up its renewable energy production.


Source: footprintrenewables, May 10, 2011