May 20 - Associated British Ports is searching for contractors to expand its docks at Hull in the UK to allow construction of offshore wind turbines.

Plans for a huge expansion of the docks, known as Green Port Hull , were first drawn up with the idea of enticing a wind turbine or offshore company to the region.

The big gamble paid off in January when German engineering giant Siemens choose the dock as the location for a new offshore wind farm factory. The planned works will take place around the Alexandra Dock. This will involve construction of a 600 m long quay on the River Humber, reclaiming 8 ha of foreshore and dredging 62 m wide and 11 m deep berths.

The three-year construction programme is expected to get underway at the end of November in time for opening in July 2014. Associated British Ports is breaking the big job down into three distinct work packages. The first, estimated to be worth up to GBP60 million (USD97.5 million) covers the main marine works, another GBP10 million (USD16.2 million) package involves infilling part of the Alexandria Dock, while the final contract, worth around GBP15 million (USD24.3 million), will cover construction of port pavements including site drainage, services, area lighting and fencing.

Meanwhile, the Danish turbine manufacturer Vestas has selected the UK port of Sheerness as the site for a fully integrated offshore wind turbine manufacturing and installation facility.

With the potential of major orders for turbines to satisfy the demands of the UK Round 3 projects, together with continued expansion of the offshore wind farm market in general throughout Europe and beyond, Vestas recently launched the V164-7.0MW turbine, its first ever purpose built offshore turbine, fully optimised for conditions in the North Sea. The company's plans involve manufacturing the new turbine at Sheerness.

The port option agreement with Peel Ports, operators of the Port of Sheerness, gives Vestas exclusive rights to 70 hectares of land, potentially leading to a full lease and building agreement involving turbine tower storage, nacelle assembly and storage, blade manufacturing and storage, and installation vessel loading facilities. The proposed site includes areas currently home to the fresh produce terminal and the import car terminal.