Green revolution: 'It's fantastic news – a once in a lifetime opportunity'
IT HAS been hailed as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, creating thousands of jobs and transforming the East Yorkshire's economy.
Siemens – the world's biggest manufacturer of wind turbines – today announced it has chosen Hull as the site for its new manufacturing plant.
The multi-million pound investment at Alexandra Dock, off Hedon Road, east Hull, is expected to create about 10,000 jobs and change the face of the region's industry.
It will establish Hull and the surrounding area as the UK's hub for renewable energy.
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Prime Minister David Cameron led the chorus of congratulations, describing the announcement as "brilliant news for Hull and the region".
ABP, which owns the dock, has worked for months to attract Siemens to Hull, in partnership with Hull City Council, East Riding Council and local MPs.
It faced tough competition from the south bank of the Humber and Teesside.
The factory itself is expected to create about 800 jobs initially, but about 9,000 more are expected to come from operations work, such as maintenance and supply activities.
ABP is investing £100 million in the project, which will see thousands of turbines shipped out to massive offshore wind turbines in the North Sea.
Matt Jukes, ABP's ports director for Hull, said: "This is hugely significant for the region. It is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, not just for the development at the port of Hull, but for development in the city as a whole.
"Siemens is the biggest player in the world in relation to wind turbines and this will be a major manufacturing plant for them.
"This will probably be the single biggest investment we have made in the UK since the docks were built in the 1800s. It is huge."
Mr Jukes said the Siemens plant is likely to act as the catalyst to transform the region's industry.
"This could become Hull's core industry," he said. "It really is fantastic news for the city, but also for the Humber as a whole. It will benefit the whole region.
"There are more offshore wind turbines planned in the North Sea than in anywhere at the world, so this is a massive opportunity."
Hull City Council leader Carl Minns described it as a "new era of prosperity for the region".
He said: "Today's announcement is a massive deal for Hull and we are delighted Siemens has chosen the city as its preferred place to invest.
"We have been working with ABP for over a year now to make sure Hull had a strong and deliverable offer and Siemens has obviously recognised that.
"This presents a fantastic opportunity for Hull and a new era of prosperity for the region.
"The council will move heaven and earth to make sure local people have access to the training and development they will need to have the skills for the jobs coming to the city."
Mr Cameron told the Mail: "Over the next decade and beyond we will need thousands of offshore turbines as we shift to a low-carbon economy.
"Hull is now poised to capitalise on the jobs and investment this will bring.
"These new jobs won't come from Government – they will come from cutting edge businesses, like Siemens.
"I very much welcome this agreement between Siemens and Associated British Ports (ABP), which I hope will lead to more secure future energy supplies, better protection of our planet and many hundreds of jobs for the region."
Hull West and Hessle MP Alan Johnson said more manufacturers could now follow Siemens, establishing the region as a green energy hub. "In the midst of some of the worse news for jobs in Hull comes one the most important announcements in the recent history of this city," he said.
"This was not a competition between the north and south banks of the Humber. Attracting Siemens is a job–creating first step to establishing a cluster for turbine manufacturing on the Humber and the beginning of a new phase in our proud history."
Hull East MP Karl Turner insisted the impact of today's announcement would have on the local economy could not be underestimated.
He said: "This is absolutely wonderful news.
"For east Hull, it was absolutely crucial we got this kind of investment to help improve the local economy.
"This is not just about jobs – this is about local, seriously high quality jobs that are sustainable and will stay in the constituency."
He added: "As Alan Johnson has said previously, it really is as big as when they first discovered oil in Scotland and so I cannot overstate how important this development is."
Graham Stuart, MP for Beverley and Holderness, said the announcement underlined the opportunity for Hull to take a lead in the fast growing renewables sector.
"Thousands of wind turbines are to be erected off our shores, giving a huge opportunity for the local area to take a lead in manufacture, assembly and research in this emerging technology.
"We have the marine engineering heritage and skills, excellent universities and colleges and the collective will to make Hull a world centre of expertise.
"Siemens is an extremely welcome arrival in the city and can play an important part in building new industries, taking the city and wider East Riding into a prosperous future."
Mr Stuart stressed the jobs created would not just be for the short–term, but would create employment opportunities for decades to come.
He added: "Offshore windfarms will need maintenance, refurbishment and renewal and could provide jobs for generations to come. "Unlike oil or gas, the wind will never run out and the establishment of this area as a leader will benefit not only the country, but the local economy, potentially for generations.
The UK government has a target to achieve 20 per cent of its energy from renewables sources by 2020.
Business Secretary Vince Cable said: "I'm pleased Siemens has recognised the great potential of the UK and is pressing ahead with this project to create a world class centre of wind turbine production in Hull.
"The development of green technologies is a real opportunity for our advanced manufacturing and engineering sectors to grow and build on the UK's position as the sixth largest manufacturer in the world.
"The demand for low carbon technology will grow and grow."
See today's mail for full analysis and reaction to what this means for the region.