PORT of Tyne bosses today pledged to deliver more than 1,000 jobs in South Tyneside after the first stage of a massive £180m expansion project got the green light.
The biggest investment package in the Port’s history will see it expand its renewable energy business.
Work on the first stage of the development – infilling the Riverside Quay at Tyne Dock in South Shields – will begin in September.
The Port will need to make a second planning application, at a later date, to extend its storage facilities for imported wood pellet bio-fuel.
A spokeswoman for the Port confirmed that more than 1,000 jobs would be created – despite cynicism from campaigners.
As part of the work, Readhead’s Landing, a restricted public right of way to the river, is to be closed.
Protesters fighting to save it claim only 57 permanent jobs would result from the expansion – not hundreds.
Kevin Flett, of the Readhead’s Landing support group, says the port is “playing with figures”.
But a Port of Tyne spokeswoman today confirmed that over the life of the project, 1,200 jobs would be created.
She said: “The Port’s plans to extend its operations will ultimately create 300 full-time jobs – and 900 in construction.
“The consent passed at the planning committee is for the first phase of this development only, and will result in 57 permanent jobs.”
The plan, unanimously passed at a meeting of the council’s planning committee, is to infill the dock using inert building materials.
And the construction will be arranged to avoid the nesting season of a kittiwake colony in the area.
Coun Gladys Hobson, Labour for West Park, said: “If we want to create jobs in this borough, we can’t halt progress. This will regenerate the area.”
Coun Allan West, who represents Westoe for Labour, agreed, saying it was important that the Port had pledged to provide an alternative public viewing platform to Readhead’s Landing – between the old McNulty yard and the Middle Docks.
But Coun Bill Brady, Labour for Whiteleas, said: “When will this alternative site be built?
“We need to know about the alternative viewing site and what the plans are for it.”
Approval for the scheme paves the way for additional berthing for handling bulk cargoes and containers.