College blazing the trail in wind energy

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HARTLEPOOL looks set to become a major training base for the wind energy workers of the future.

That was the key message to emerge from a conference in which more than 200 top business bosses were planning to converge on Hartlepool last night for a groundbreaking meeting on wind development.

That was due to be followed up by a breakfast seminar this morning with 100 more delegates there.

The double event was the first-ever North-East meeting of Renewable UK, which is the trade and professional body for the UK wind and marine renewables industries.

It was held at the new £53m Hartlepool College of Further Education, in Stockton Street, and was sponsored by PD Ports, which owns dockland in Hartlepool.

PD Ports chiefs are trying to persuade big international companies to invest in the town which is being seen as a potential UK hub of wind energy development.

PD Ports development director Paul Barker said: “This is an example of us getting the name of Hartlepool out there and getting the word out about the strength of Hartlepool as a credible option.

“We can show people around the town and show them real sites, not just artist’s impressions.

“We are trying to tick off all the questions that investors would have. If they ask us have you got the land, we can show them that.

“If a business comes along and says we need hundreds of workers for a new plant in Hartlepool, where will they be trained, we can say there is a £53m college here. We can start training people there now.”

The conference included talks from representatives of the National Renewable Energy Centre and college principal Michael Bretherick.

Mr Barker added: “The college is a showcase for Hartlepool and this was an event to showcase what is going on in the industrial world and what sort of training is needed.

“There is an opportunity in Hartlepool to be creating welders of the future, fabricators of the future as well as hi-tech positions such as turbine technicians.

“People are saying that wind farm development will be a 20-year process. If anyone is leaving school in the next two to three years in Hartlepool, this could put them in line for training and a career spanning for most of their life.”