Several of the UK’s ports are gearing up to support vital industries such as offshore wind energy, automotive handling and steel.

Heerema’s offshore deepwater construction vessel Aegir at the port of Tyne.

Andrew Hodgson, chairman of North East Local Enterprise Partnership – a business-led, strategic partnership responsible for promoting and developing economic growth in the northern England – said: “Offshore wind is a sector in which the northeast has particular strengths” adding that the sector has the “potential to create more and better jobs for the region”.

He added that the UK government has recognised these strengths, with the northeast being selected as one of the geographical clusters of the industry where offshore wind energy projects will supported, as outlined in the UK’s offshore wind Sector Deal. This deal will support the development of skills, innovation and infrastructure.

As such, the port of Tyne has almost completed a GBP3 million (USD3.79 million) investment programme to infill Tyne Dock, declaring that “the Tyne is right” to support the growing offshore wind sector. The port has created an additional 30 acres (12.1 ha) of land with deepsea quayside access to support offshore wind energy project developments.

Matt Beeton, port of Tyne ceo, said: “The demolition of a number of buildings means our latest infrastructure programme provides increased storage capacity at Tyne Dock Enterprise Park, which already has excellent multimodal connectivity by sea, road and rail and offers all the benefits of Enterprise Zone status.”

In southeastern England, Peel Ports is investing GBP5.5 million (USD7 million) to replace the Royal Bridge Pontoon at London Medway in order to increase capacity – particularly for customers in the automotive and forestry sectors, which form the mainstay of London Medway’s traffic.

The work includes a new ramp measuring 12 m x 45 m that will allow larger stern-ramp ro-ro vessels to berth at the port.

Riccardo Tonelli, port director ro-ro at Peel Ports Group, said: “The new ramp facility at the Royal Bridge Pontoon will allow us to provide a better service to existing customers, increase volumes and gain new opportunities in unaccompanied freight.”

He noted that the investment would allow companies using larger vessels easier access to London and the southeast of England.

Other developments at London Medway include a new GBP40 million (USD50.5 million) forest product hub at Wellmarsh, transforming the former Thamesteel site into flexible storage and purpose-built logistics facilities, Peel Ports said.

Furthermore: “London Medway’s reputation for forestry products has benefitted Peel Port’s national network, with Jenkins, a national logistics provider specialising in paper, pulp and other forest products, set to invest in a GBP17 million (USD21.5 million) new custom-built warehouse at the port of Liverpool,” the port operator confirmed.

Finally, PD Ports is partnering with All Steels Trading, one of Europe’s fastest-growing steel traders, in a multi-million-pound investment at Groveport on the River Trent, North Lincolnshire.

Construction of the facility began in March and is set for completion in September this year, providing direct quay access and taking All Steels Trading’s footprint from 166,000 sq ft (15,422 sq m) to over 300,000 sq ft (27,871 sq m). It will be staffed by PD Ports personnel.

Laurence McDougall, All Steels Trading managing director, said the new facility would streamline the company’s entire business model.

“Having the ability to centralise all of our operations at Groveport enables us to deliver an unrivalled service for our customers, reaffirming our market position as the number one choice for long steel products in the UK.

“We often have to respond quickly to fluctuations in demand and knowing we can rely on PD Ports to handle, store and have our steel products available on demand adds real strength to our customer offer in terms of efficiency and value for money,” he added.