UK: Port of Tyne Takes Big Steps toward Renewables
The Port of Tyne is stepping up the pace in the race to provide clean, green renewable fuels for the future with £180m investment plans for its south bank estate in South Tyneside.
On the back of several years of record growth, the Port has focussed its business strategy for further growth on renewable energy - ensuring thousands of jobs and helping the UK to meet its target of cutting carbon emissions by at least 15% by 2020.
The announced proposals are to develop infrastructure and new facilities for handling, storage and transportation of imports of wood pellet, an important source of bio-energy for power stations, and to extend its main Riverside Quay at Tyne Dock, bringing jobs and economic benefit to the North East region.
The Port is already the largest handler of wood pellet in Europe and the plans are to enhance and expand its existing wood pellet storage facilities and associated quay and rail infrastructure. These developments if delivered in full will create 900 jobs in construction and a further 300 full-time operational jobs, supporting an additional 2,000 jobs. This would take the Port's impact on the regional economy to well over £500m in Gross Value Added each year, and increase the number of jobs supported by 20% to a total of 12,000 jobs.
The Port is currently talking to existing and new customers about putting the new facilities in place. The process to find an investment partner to assist with funding is well underway and discussions are being held with a number of interested parties.
The developments represent the biggest investment ever made by the Port and follow major investments already made in 2012. These included the strategic land acquisitions of the former McNulty site in South Tyneside and Morston Quays in North Tyneside both of which increased the Port's landholdings by almost 10%, to 624 acres, and available berths by 30%, providing in total over 3km of berth space on both banks of the river.
Additionally, it is investing in an extra gantry crane which will support the Port's container terminal business. The £6m crane will be delivered later this year.
Further plans under consideration for the future on its now enlarged Tyne Dock Estate include facilities for offshore engineering and development of key buildings such as an office headquarter building and environmental improvements to provide a natural buffer between industry and the developing town centre. The Port will work with South Tyneside Council to support its future plans for the adjoining Riverside Park and public amenities.
In addition there are other plans for the Port's estate on the north bank of the River Tyne, in particular for additional investment on a large site within the North East LEP Enterprise Zone. The Port is currently marketing this site for offshore wind turbine manufacturing for the world's largest offshore wind farms in the North Sea, and is in advanced discussions with potential partners.
The Port continues to work with its existing customers to ensure facilities and services are developed to assist them in growing their businesses, including major companies such as Nissan, VW, Tetley and JML, who rely upon the Port's connectivity, facilities and services to get their products to market quickly and efficiently.
The Port of Tyne, once world famous for coal exports and in latter years, for coal imports, has diversified in recent times to ensure it can keep pace with the global economy and its customers' needs. It is now the UK's largest car exporter, the fourth largest coal importer and one of the largest handlers of wood pellet in the world. It operates an award-winning International Passenger Terminal for ferries and cruise ships, and recently became Britain's largest trust port, overtaking the Port of Dover. It also manages a busy container terminal and UK wide distribution network with a fleet of more than 180 trucks and trailers.
"It is in renewable energy where we see the next major area of growth for us," said Andrew Moffat, the Port of Tyne's Chief Executive Officer. "That is why we are working with major companies in the power generation industry to identify their future requirements and making sure we will be ready to meet their needs.
"These are very significant plans for the Port of Tyne which are imperative for both the sustainability of the Port and the future delivery of the Government's carbon reduction targets.
"The expertise we have gained in handling wood pellet for over two years and the technologies we have developed are now being sought by national and international energy companies looking to reduce their reliance on fossil fuels and meet government targets of using renewable fuels. The new proposals are for sophisticated, high spec storage and transfer solutions in terms of design, efficiency and reducing environmental impact, and are intended to maintain our position as a world leader in handling this important new fuel."
Cllr Iain Malcolm, Leader of South Tyneside Council, commented: "This will further strengthen South Tyneside's position as a key player in the renewables and green energy industries, as well as creating new jobs in the borough and the wider North East.
"The Council is making major investments to attract new jobs to the borough and to transform our town centres, and this development will complement those initiatives."
Initially, the Port will submit applications to extend the Port's multi-functional berths at Riverside Quay by 100 metres and provide the additional facilities for wood pellet including multi-purpose sealed storage, enclosed conveyor systems and a new length of railway line. It will involve the closure of seldom used public by-way, Redheads Landing. New and better access to river views will be provided at an area nearby which will be specially designed and more suitable for public use.
"The Port is on target for another year of record turnover and profit," added Andrew Moffat.
"To continue to survive and thrive, we must maintain a competitive advantage and these forward thinking plans will enable us to do just that, significantly increasing the Port's impact on the regional economy."
Welcoming the plans, MP for South Shields, the Rt Hon David Miliband, said: "This is very good news for South Shields and the surrounding communities. The Port's vision and ambition ultimately will provide the jobs we very much need in this area now and for the future, and importantly, is supporting the growth of renewable fuels to provide the clean, green energy we need for the future."
Press release, January 24, 2013; Image: Port of Tyne