Winds of opportunity
Growth and regeneration are the buzz words for places along the Humber Bank, with plenty of exciting plans in the pipeline and major developments progressing well.
With the largest offshore wind park in Europe taking shape on the South Bank, a new university technical college specialising in engineering and renewables set to open in Scunthorpe in September and the BAE Systems training academy relocated to Humberside Airport, confidence in the area has never been so high.
Speaking at the recent launch of the Humber Local Enterprise Partnership’s (LEP) annual review, chairman Lord Haskins said these are the most exciting times for the Humber for fifty years.
“The North is firmly on the political agenda and there is the promise of more devolved powers and investment,” he said.
“We are starting to see tangible achievements to create a more prosperous economic environment in the Humber, which is competitive and productive. We are poised to take advantage of initiatives aimed at rebalancing the UK economy and maximising our area’s potential.
“The Humber Estuary is a national asset established firmly as the UK’s energy estuary, and the LEP is encouraging investment in business, skills and infrastructure to capitalise on that.
“Some of our recent achievements and progress wouldn’t have been made without the strong partnership developed between businesses large and small, the four local councils, the University of Hull and education and training providers. We have made significant progress, but there is still much to do.”
The Humber LEP is one of thirty-nine LEPs nationwide which were set up in 2011 to encourage, support and promote local economic development. As a business-led partnership working with Government, local authorities and the education sector across the Humber area, the partnership pools knowledge, expertise and experience to provide strategic leadership and deliver ambitious plans for sustainable economic growth.
More than £25 million from the Regional Growth Fund through the Growing the Humber programme has been invested in nearly 200 businesses across the region creating 2,200 new jobs and enabling £107 million investment by businesses.
A new national college for wind energy is to be located in the Humber and a City Deal investment programme has resulted in 2,223 additional students and 565 additional apprentices being recruited to science, mathematics and engineering.
Work has started on the Able Marine Energy Park, which is set to be the largest offshore wind park in Europe. A senior executive of the company developing the park said the area is “a great place to do business” and has praised the widespread support for the project.
Able Group development director Neil Etherington said they had been greatly impressed by the clear vision and strong leadership shown by bodies including North Lincolnshire Council and the Humber Local Enterprise Partnership in supporting both the development of the park project and the drive to establish the Humber as a world class centre for renewable industry technologies.
“The commitment and unity of purpose shown across the area and across the political spectrum is, I believe, an example for others to follow,” he said. “Since the start of the AMEP project there has been a recognition that, as well as generating thousands of direct jobs, it will provide a vital catalyst in attracting companies, large and small, which we need to create a successful renewable energy cluster on the Humber.
“AMEP is a nationally significant infrastructure project and can make a significant contribution to the Government’s ‘Northern Powerhouse’ ambitions, providing the state-of-the-art port facilities needed to maximise jobs and investment in what will be one of the most important and expanding business sectors in the years ahead.”
The AMEP site covers more than 900 acres and will provide 1,289 metres of new heavy duty deep water quays designed specifically for the marine renewables energy sector.
The work so far has included importing well over a million tonnes of stone over a 150-day period and laying 590,000 squares metres of specially designed membrane over an area equivalent to more than 100 football pitches.
Leader of North Lincolnshire Council, Councillor Liz Redfern said: “With work already well underway onsite, the Able Marine Energy Park will play a major role in transforming the economy of the South Humber Bank and will see North Lincolnshire become the centre for UK offshore wind.
“The project will initially create more than 4,000 direct jobs, as well as attract brand new industry into the South Humber Bank, and new growth opportunities for our manufacturing and engineering sectors.
“The Government’s support is clear, having already invested £15m through the Enterprise Zone Grant on this project and a further £132m in the improvements to the A160, and a further £22.7m in Local Growth Fund monies.
“This shows their confidence in the Humber leading the way in offshore wind and renewables, and their recognition for the council’s and Able UK’s vision for the area.”
The improvements to the A160 began in March and are expected to take sixteen months to complete. But the project is classed as a nationally significant infrastructure project under the Planning Act 2008 and is hailed as a superhighway to boost jobs and investment at the Port of Immingham and the Able UK development at Killingholme.
The A160 is a key strategic route which experiences congestion, particularly along the single carriageway section, due to the very high proportion of heavy goods vehicles. The project will see a three-mile stretch of the road dualled improving links to and from the Port of Immingham, Humber Sea Terminal, the planned Able Marine Energy Park and the two South Bank oil refineries.
Humber LEP is behind a lot of the developments being carried out on the Humber but a skilled workforce is seen as a key to success.
That is why two years ago Humber LEP launched a campaign, the Humber Skills Pledge, aimed at boosting local economy through investment in skills and training.
Supported by the Hull & Humber Chamber of Commerce, the Skills Pledge is a voluntary declaration by an employer to support its workforce in developing vital skills and access to training organisations, so that they can make a full contribution to the success of the business. This, in turn, contributes to growing the local economy.
Businesses can also offer work placements through the Pledge which helps improve the employability prospects for young people and people looking to retrain.
Last month the 300th Skills Pledge certificate was awarded to Scunthorpe’s John Leggott College.
LEP chairman Lord Haskins said: “Reaching 300 Skills Pledges is a major milestone and it is testament to the commitment we have from businesses across the Humber, having a workforce which is equipped to make the most of the employment opportunities available.”
The Chamber of Commerce represents 500 businesses along the South Bank of the Humber ranging from the largest industries and businesses such as Corus, Young’s Seafood Ltd and ConocoPhillips, down to small to medium sized enterprises covering every aspect of business, industry and commercial activity.
Other opportunities have been created for youngsters in the region to gain a skill and play their part in the future success of the Humber through the new Humber University Technical College opening in Scunthorpe in September, and the BAE systems training academy which has relocated from Doncaster Airport to Humberside Airport.
The Humber UTC will take on 600 students aged 14 to 18 (Years 10 to 13) and will specialise in engineering and renewables.
The aim of the school is to build an engineering workforce for the future, to aid the local and national economy. Local employers partners from a range of industries will also offer some apprenticeships to successful students, including the new BAE training academy which is to create sixty apprenticeships in total each year, on a two-year basis.
Once the apprentices have qualified they will become part of the BAE Systems team, working alongside the RAF in supporting the fast-jet fleets at RAF Coningsby and RAF Marham, as well as travelling overseas to support international customers.
The River Humber is one of the busiest waterways in the British Isles and the Humber ports of Grimsby, Immingham, Hull and Goole are seen as the region’s engine for economic growth.
They play an important role in the exploitation of new business opportunities, enable expansion into new markets and attract significant amounts of inward investment.
Humber Estuary Services (HES) is part of Associated British Ports (ABP), the country’s biggest ports group, which owns and operates twenty-one ports, including the four Humber ports.
ABP is also the competent harbour authority for the River Humber and last year dealt with more than 30,000 vessel movements across the estuary, covering Grimsby, Immingham, Hull, Goole and all the independent jetties and wharves up and down the Humber and River Trent.
The Humber is one of the busiest and fastest growing trading areas in Europe,” said Catherine Wood, ABP’s marine administration manager for the Humber.
“Almost one quarter of the UK’s seaborne trade passes through the Humber; this includes 25 per cent of the country’s natural gas and 25 per cent of its refined petroleum products. Consequently, the Humber is a vital component of the country’s wellbeing and is a major contributor to the UK’s economy.
“The ports offer a major geographical advantage with unrivalled access into the UK. With excellent road and rail links, some 40 million consumers and more than 60 per cent of the country’s manufacturing capacity lies within a four-hour drive of the Humber.
“There are also excellent links to Europe with crossing times to the continent as short as ten hours. With this combination of benefits it is not surprising that the estuary is such an important centre for trade.”
OLD TILE WORKS
A restaurant and coffee shop at a popular tourist attraction along the Humber Bank which was affected by the tidal surge floods eighteen months ago has finally been able to reopen.
Tiles, located on the site of the Old Tile Works in Far Ings Road at Barton on Humber, which was flooded when the tidal surge hit the East Coast in December 2013, has been back in business since May with a new chef, new menu and new team.
Open daily from 10am to 4pm it serves breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea and is in the process of being licensed.
“Though the restaurant / coffee shop wasn’t flooded, other parts of the site were so we had to close down,” explained new site manager Faith Young. “We reopened a couple of months ago with new staff and a new menu featuring good home-cooked food.”
Also on the site is the Potter’s Shed where handmade Lincolnshire flower pots are made by the potting team, which is led by the talented Gabriel Nichols, a highly skilled craftsmen with thirty years’ experience and a real passion for his art.
The potters can create anything, from a three-inch Longtom and traditional Lincolnshire flowerpot to a four-foot chimney, all in a variety of sizes and styles – and because they’re handmade from a natural material, each one is unique.
“The flower pots are well-known and there are only a handful of people who do it in the country,” said Faith. “As far as I am aware we are the only site creating handmade tiles.”
Faith has just taken over the role of site manager, having come from the Fitzwilliam estate in Malton near Scarborough.
“I helped turn it into Yorkshire’s food capital and put Malton on the map,” said Faith. “I hope to do a similar thing here in Barton and the overall idea is to develop the site, get it well-known and attract people down here.
“We are not far from the Far Ings nature reserve and the views here are incredible.”
Barton-upon-Humber has a longstanding relationship with bricks and tiles. In 1826 there were four brick and tile manufacturers along the Humber bank but by 1892 this figure rose to thirteen, stretching all the way up the riverbank.
At its peak, there were fifteen working yards in Barton upon Humber. Today, there are two tile yards left.
A new £5 million national training academy is to be built at Humberside Airport to produce up to sixty apprentices every year and more than 150 new jobs over the next three years.
The facility will house the RJ Mitchell Aircraft Maintenance Academy which will act as a nationwide hub to train apprentices for the maintenance and servicing of UK fighter jets and to support BAE’s international customers.
It is named after the aeronautical engineer behind aircraft including the Supermarine Spitfire, famous for its involvement in the Second World War.
The academy, set to be supported through the Regional Growth Fund, will be modelled on Resource Group’s existing state-of-the-art training facilities and incorporate a hangar, training aircraft, classrooms and practical training workshops.
The academy will take on four cohorts of fifteen apprentices (sixty in total) each year, on a two-year apprenticeship, who will be trained to NVQ level three.
It is also planned to include one cohort directly from the Humber University Technical College (UTC), followed by a 24-month programme split between academic modules and on-the-job practical training usually at RAF Coningsby, RAF Marham and RAF Valley, on Typhoon, Tornado and Hawk jets respectively.
Once the apprentices have qualified, they will become part of the BAE Systems team, working alongside the RAF in supporting the fast-jet fleets at RAF Coningsby and RAF Marham as well as travelling overseas to support international customers.
Martin Blaze, director of aircraft maintenance and support, said: “This Academy gives us the opportunity to develop the individuals to the highest level of competence to ensure safe operations.
“We also anticipate that BAE Systems personnel from places such as Saudi Arabia and Oman will also come to this facility to be trained to then return to work in country, which will be a huge feather in the cap of all concerned.”
The new academy is due to be completed by October this year.
In March the training of apprentices at the RJ Mitchell Aircraft Maintenance Academy relocated from Robin Hood Airport in Doncaster to Humberside Airport. The apprentices are presently located in an existing facility at the airport which includes accommodation space for apprentices, with training taking place in an existing hangar at the airport.
This facility recently took delivery of a Hawk jet trainer, the ‘flying classroom’ used by the RAF to train its frontline pilots of the future, and Dominie training aircraft which gives apprentices hands on experience of working on an aircraft.
A BAE Systems spokesman said: “Work is progressing well as planned and the ground is being prepared ready for the new hangar which will be completed no later than October.
“The academy will have six classrooms, four workshops, two IT suites and hangar space for up to six aircraft and will provide an excellent foundation for our apprentices, who will go on to support our RAF customer on bases across the country.”