'Ghost Ships' Yard Tries to Catch the Wind

An aerial view of the proposed TERRC site, with four Ghost Ships currently in situ. An aerial view of the proposed TERRC site, with four Ghost Ships currently in situ.
Industry Database

The UK Government's Environment Agency as well as its statutory ecology adviser English Nature are both formally objecting to an application for a new waste management license from Able UK for its proposed £ 25m Teesside Environmental Reclamation and Recycling Centre (TERRC) at Seaton Port Graythorp.

The application by Able, which gained notoriety in 2003 by contracting to dismantle derelict American military support 'ghost ships', includes but goes beyond vessel recycling to include shipbuilding and ship repair whilst also envisioning TERRC becoming a key centre in the rapidly expanding area of wind power technology.

The Graythorp facility was originally developed as a shipyard and almost 500 vessels were built there between 1913 and 1963.

Laing Offshore acquired the yard in 1969 and developed the site for the construction of large offshore structures and decommissioning work. Able UK purchased the facility in 1996, quietly importing and recycling marine structures for many companies since 1985 until the ghost ships story hit the headlines.

In January Able submitted a planning application to Hartlepool Borough Council for the TERRC development, which would include the construction of new quays, a cofferdam and a dry dock gate, and facilities for the manufacture of wind turbine towers and blades as well as the assembly of turbine generator units. The plan calls for dredging and deepening the Seaton channel into the proposed new dry dock, which the conservation organisation RSPB believes could cause the collapse of a nearby Site of Special Scientific Interest and the loss of a European designated wildlife habitat.

Able UK's group managing director said, 'The waste management license is obviously a key element in enabling us to move ahead with our proposals for TERRC. We welcome the fact that the Environment Agency, along with the Council, intends to fully consult on our proposals and we hope that as many people as possible will take the opportunity to discover the full facts about our plans, not least the conclusion of the very detailed Environmental Impact Statement, which has been prepared by international independent consultants and confirms that the proposed developments will not have any significant impact on the local ecology.'

Environmental organisations are sceptical of Able UK's 350 page impact statement and English Nature has requested answers to some 130 questions about the project before it will agree to it proceeding. Its letter of objection last month said, 'It is our opinion that the company has failed to provide the necessary information.' Hartlepool Borough Council followed with a view that a planning committee meeting cannot be scheduled until the environmental issues raised last month can be examined thoroughly.

MJ Information No: 20767

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