Humber £450m marine energy park decision suffers new delay

Computer-generated image of the planned energy park
Image caption Construction will involve the reclamation of 136 acres (55 hectares) of land from the Humber estuary and development of 605 acres (245 hectares) onshore

A final decision on whether plans for a £450m wind turbine manufacturing site can go ahead has been delayed for a third time.

Developer Able UK says its marine energy park on the south bank of the Humber will create 4,000 local jobs.

Transport Minister Norman Baker, who postponed a decision in May and July, has said he is minded to approve it but has asked for details on two issues.

Able UK said the further delay was "more than a little frustrating".

Mr Baker said he needed further information about the ecological impact of the scheme on the Humber Estuary and assurances that the project would not jeopardise any operations of the Killingholme Branch railway.

'Overwhelming support'

A report said the minister felt that "facilitating the regeneration and economic development of the area around the project, and supporting the development of the offshore renewable energy industry are matters of substantial public benefit".

It added: "He nevertheless recognises that the project would be likely to have a number of adverse environmental impacts, especially in relation to the ecologically-sensitive Humber estuary."

Image caption Natural England and the RSPB have raised concerns about the ecological impact of the scheme

Natural England has said it believes there is a "substantial risk" that Able UK's proposed habitat protection measures will not work.

Mr Baker has asked to receive the requested information by 25 September and will then seek comments from interested parties before making his decision by 18 December.

Able UK's plan is to construct a new quay, warehouse, transportation depots and a business park at North Killingholme in North Lincolnshire.

The company previously said it had spent about £9m on the whole application process.

Neil Etherington, Able UK's group development director, welcomed Mr Baker's indication of support but said the further delay was disappointing.

He said: "This application has been under consideration for around four years and, as part of the planning process, we have put forward measures to spend over £35m protecting wildlife and the environment.

"We will be taking immediate steps to address the issues raised... and sincerely hope that there will be no further delays in a project which enjoys the overwhelming support of the entire local community."

Natural England said it recognised "the importance of this development in bringing investment and jobs to the area, stimulating economic growth and promoting renewable energy".

In a statement, a spokesman said: " Our aim is not to block this nationally-significant development, but to ensure that if approved it can go ahead without breaching conservation laws and where it damages the protected site, adequate new habitat is provided to offset the loss of this sensitive, vital piece of our natural environment.

"We are committed to working with Able Humber Ports Limited and its partners to help them address the points raised by the Secretary of State."

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