APPROVAL for a £180m expansion of the Port of Tyne in South Shields has been granted.
Members of South Tyneside Council’s planning committee yesterday gave the thumbs-up to proposals for the creation of a new wood pellet-handling and storage facility at Tyne Dock.
It will create 900 construction jobs and 300 full-time jobs when fully operational.
A spokesman for the port said the move marked a big milestone in the expansion of its operations in the town.
He said: “This is another important milestone for the project which, if it can be delivered in full, will create some 900 jobs in construction and 300 permanent full time jobs at the port, resulting in significant economic benefit to the local area.”
The Government recently backed the use of renewable fuels to fire power stations, a move welcomed by Port of Tyne chief executive Andrew Moffat.
The port is already a key link in the wood pellet supply chain for several power-generating companies traditionally associated with coal-fired power stations.
In response to an ongoing drive to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, many of these coal-fired plants are converting their boilers to use wood pellets, an import commodity the port already has expertise in handling.
The extension, on land next to Tyne Logistics and IHC Engineering, would also incorporate 10 50m-high storage silos and two 46m-high rail-loading silos.
The application had faced opposition following the consultation process.
The owners of a property in nearby Thornton Avenue claimed noise from the port had increased since they bought their flat in 1991. And a resident of Compass House, near the entrance to the port in Hudson Street, raised concerns about the fire extinguishers available at the proposed storage silos.
Those concerns were outweighedby the economic and environmental benefits of the expansion plan as pellet imports are seen as a potential major growth area for the business.
Burning sustainable wood pellets, as opposed to coal, can lead to a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions over the whole supply chain of more than 80 per cent.
The Port of Tyne has already invested £23m in the specialist equipment and facilities required to store and handle wooden pellets.
A report, presented to yesterday’s planning committee, concluded: “The proposal would represent a very significant investment by the port, which is recognised as being important to both the local and regional economy.”