High hopes for 1,500 wind jobs

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UP to 1,500 jobs could be created in Hartlepool in wind energy.

A number of firms have started confidential talks to bring major investment to the town. A series of others have expressed a “strong interest” in coming to Hartlepool.

And if two of those parties firm up their interest, it would mean 1,500 jobs directly, more in the supply chain, and potential investment in the town of more than £100m.

The confident prediction came from bosses at PD Ports, the owners of the town’s dockland, as they held their annual stakeholder event yesterday at Teesport.

The meeting is designed to let ports chiefs explain the progress they have made over the past year, and their predictions for the 12 months ahead.

Jerry Hopkinson, managing director of Bulks, Ports and Logistics for PD Ports, said: “We are talking to a number of energy generators about utilising Hartlepool as an epicentre for a factory to manufacture wind turbines and load them out.

“This industry gives fantastic prospects for the future of employment in the Tees Valley.”

Mr Hopkinson referred to the bid to get the Spanish wind turbine maker Gamesa to come to Hartlepool. Ultimately, the town lost out to Leith, in Scotland, in the bid to clinch the 800-job deal.

But he said the process showed Hartlepool was an eminent port after it reached a shortlist of two from 26 British ports in the running.

Later, speaking to the Hartlepool Mail, he said firms with global reputations were thinking of investing in Hartlepool.

He said “lessons had been learned” from the Gamesa negotiations but now talks were under way with other potential investors.

Mr Hopkinson added: “We have got a series of non-disclosure agreements which means we have entered into confidential discussions with people.

“We have also got a series of people who have expressed a strong interest in Hartlepool.

“Typically, these are people who are looking to establish a turbine factory.

“These are potential projects that are going to demand levels of investment of more than £100m to bring them to fruition.”

He said there were hurdles to overcome with regulations.

But Mr Hopkinson added: “The manufacturers that we are talking to are global suppliers.

“Hartlepool offers a lot and I think we should be positive. It is about pulling together and I believe we can deliver something that gives significant prospects for the future.”

PD Ports group chief execuive David Robinson said: “The challenge is getting projects over the line. These are a very difficult set of economic circumstances and some things take longer.”