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Yorkshire officials OK Hull turbine plant

  |   Feb. 27, 2012 at 6:30 AM
HULL, England, Feb. 27 (UPI) -- A planned $333 million wind turbine factory in the British port city of Hull has taken a key step forward with a thumbs-up from Yorkshire officials.

The East Riding of Yorkshire Council's planning committee Friday approved the application for "Green Port Hull," submitted by Associated British Ports and Germany's Siemens, Europe's largest engineering company, the Yorkshire Post reported.

Phyllis Pollard, chairwoman of the East Riding planning committee, said the proposal -- which would see Siemens produce between 200-300 massive wind turbines per year at Hull's Alexandra Dock -- will be a major boost to hard-hit economy of England's Humber River region.

"We welcome the applications and give our full support to a project which has huge potential to contribute to the economic development of the area by making the Humber a centre for the renewable energy sector," Pollard said.

She added, "Green Port Hull will bring benefits to the East Riding as well as the wider Humber area and we have a close interest in helping to steer the project to success."

With the East Riding Council's approval, the plans now go to the Hull City Council, which is expected to take them up in April, the Post reported.

The plans submitted to the Yorkshire council revealed new details about the Green Port Hull proposal, which is being set up to supply and transport turbines for new offshore wind farms under Britain's "Round 3" leases in the North Sea, the newspaper said.

Associated British Ports and Siemens Between said 700-800 full-time jobs would initially be established at the plant with construction beginning in "mid-2012." Using 345-445 construction workers, the effort would take 28 months to complete.

The plans also indicated Green Port Hull will have the ability to ramp production up to 500 turbines per year if need be, with its workforce jumping to 1,230 under the those conditions.

The facility would include not only the turbine factory but also offices, storage areas and a helicopter landing site, the newspaper said.

The port of Hull got the nod because of its proximity to three of the world's biggest offshore wind farms, which were part of the 2008 "Round 3" of wind leasing in British waters.

In all, more that 32 gigawatts were leased to developers in that round, along with another 6 gigawatts in Scottish waters leased in 2007. Three wind farms under construction near Hull and are all within 12 hours steaming time and require 5,000 turbines.

Included in that group is Europe's largest offshore wind park, to be constructed on the south bank of the Humber by Able UK. That $715 million effort is being touted as creating more than 4,000 jobs.

The Hull facility would manufacture 6-megawatt turbines -- twice as big as the biggest now being used and measuring nearly 500 feet each.

The new wind farms are already generating economic activity. MMS Ship Repair announced this month it will build and operate a fleet of vessels to serve the giant offshore wind farms, the British trade journal Offshore Shipping Online reported.

The multimillion-dollar project at the Alexandra Dock will produce 12-person vessels to serve as a "shuttle service" to the offshore wind sites, Rob Langton, MMS managing director, told the publication.

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