A new energy and data park on the edge of Hull could create up to 1,000 jobs.
Outline plans for the proposed £200m development on part of the former Hedon aerodrome site at Saltend are being lodged with East Riding Council on Monday. And, for the first time, a number of international companies have confirmed they are putting their weight behind the project.
The include data giant IBM, mobile communications firm Vodafone, telecoms and equipment specialists ZTE UK Ltd., energy company SSE and the Association of British Insurers.
Chairman Chris Turner said: “With the level of corporate backing already committed to this project, the Yorkshire Energy Park has the potential to provide a major economic, education and training boost to this region and create a project template for the UK’s low carbon industrial future.”
Subject to securing planning approval, the scheme will include a new power station supplying energy for the entire site as well as for export, a data centre, business park and an education campus featuring a building materials test centre, research and development and on-site residential accommodation for people from around the country attending training courses.
As well as the potential to create 1,000 operational jobs, backers of the project say it could also see up to 120 construction jobs per year being guaranteed over what is expected to be an eight to ten-year build programme.
The biggest planning hurdle facing the partnership is convincing East Riding councillors that the development will not mean the end of the greenbelt between Hull, Preston and Hedon.
Since initial proposals were released last year, they have extended a so-called green buffer zone by changing the layout of relocated sports facilities currently used by amateur clubs based at the Eastside complex in Staithes Road.
Rob Cawkwell, project director from Sewell Investments, said: “This under-utilised site is regionally unique in that it has the benefit of size and direct access to natural gas and electricity infrastructure.
“We have spent almost 1,000 hours listening to and briefing stakeholders, and taken on board the comments and points raised, which are clearly reflected in the outline planning submission.
“On the back of extensive community engagement, we have extended the green buffer zone by almost 50 per cent.
“Over the life of the development, that area is protected, ensuring we will never build on it and it will be reserved for birds and wildlife.
“We have also taken traffic management into account both on and off site, flood mitigation measures that will have a positive impact both on and off site and we are protecting the views of the churches in Hedon, Preston and Paull, referred to locally as the Three Sisters.”
A new round of public consultation events starts on Monday to coincide with the planning application being submitted to the council.
Mr Cawkwell said: “This third round of information events will demonstrate how much we have listened, as well as how previous events have informed the application.”
Lord Haskins, chairman of the of the Humber Local Economic Partnership, said the submission of the application marked a major milestone.
He said: “This is a great day for the Humber. The Yorkshire Energy Park would further strengthen our position as the UK’s Energy Estuary, building on the success of the recent Siemens investment.
“The number of new jobs proposed is transformational and the level of private sector investment and community engagement already undertaken by the joint venture team, and their end users, is further tangible evidence that the Humber is an attractive proposition for investors.
“There have been extensive and constructive discussions by all parties, including statutory agencies, on this important project.”
The Yorkshire Energy Park has the potential to be the region’s biggest investment development since Siemens decided to build its offshore wind turbine facility at Hull’s Alexandra Dock. It also now has some big-name players behind it.
Nick Toft, head of customer acquisition at Vodafone UK Limited, said the company was looking to meet the development’s IT service and connectivity requirements.
He said: “Vodafone look forward to working with the development team of the Yorkshire Energy Park to provide leading technology and communication solutions.”
Bob Dowell, of ZTE UK Ltd, said: “ZTE are pleased to provide their endorsement for this project, which we regard as being of national significance. By bringing together low cost energy, energy security, education and technology on a single site, Yorkshire Energy Park will deliver a major socio-economic boost for the Humber region.”
The partnership behind the park includes Hull’s Sewell Investments, Hessle-based Eco Parks Developments Ltd and London based Chiltern, a national renewable energy, infrastructure and technology project management firm.
There will be a number of information events at the following places: