A businessman heading a new £30million green energy park in Hartlepool is already looking to the future.
The Biopower development, on Brenda Road, is set to create around 80 jobs during its construction and a further 25 once in operation.
This is probably the biggest single investment in Hartlepool for some timeSteve Winspear, Biopower Group
It will convert food waste into electricity using biogas.
And town businessman Steve Winspear, managing director of the Biopower Group, says they are already looking at ways to use the by-product left over at the end of the process, bringing even greater investment.
“We are looking at different technologies to turn what is left over into pellets that can be sold for fuel or used in another system,” he said.
Biopower Group chiefs and Hartlepool Borough Council officials celebrated the start of the project on the site.
Mr Winspear added: “It has been about three years in the making. I see it as the first step and kickstart for the rest of the scheme.
“I’m very positive about it. If we can put jobs in here and some rateable value from the land it has got to be good news. This is probably the biggest single investment in Hartlepool for some time.”
He said the business rates from the site will go some way to mitigating big cuts in taxes received from Hartlepool Power Station.
The EDF nuclear power plant had its business rate reduced after an appeal resulting in the loss of £3.9million a year to the council.
The Biopower site is due to run around the clock and is expected to produce enough electricity for the national grid to power around 4,000 homes a year.
Two future phases of the development are said to be worth potentially £100million of investment to the Hartlepool economy.
Planning permission for the development was granted by the council which has also provided advice and support to the Biopower Group.
Diggers have started clearing the site ready for stage one – the creation of the £30 million 5.1 megawatt anaerobic digestion plant.
Councillor Kevin Cranney, chair of the Regeneration Services Committee, said: “Steve has done a fantastic job getting the investors. We are talking about nearly £30million of private sector investment that will create jobs and give us the opportunity to convert waste into energy which is something I’m a big supporter of.
“Although we are doing a lot more in recycling terms as a local authority this will support it even more.”
Project leaders say energy could start to be generated from as early as next spring. It is hoped it may also help attract new firms to the town as the plant will be able to provide nearby businesses with energy.