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Able UK plans pounds 25m dock development.

Byline: By Guy Anderson

Able UK ( the North ship salvage group involved with the controversial "ghost fleet" ( is preparing to invest pounds 25m in a dock development which it says will create more than 700 jobs.

The Hartlepool group has applied for permission to build three new quays, a shipbuilding and recycling centre, plus an offshore manufacturing site at Seaton Port Graythorp.

A decision is expected in April on the application which was submitted to Hartlepool Borough Council yesterday.

Peter Stephenson, chief executive and chairman of Able UK, said: "This will provide the chance for ship and offshore construction and repair work in what will be one of the biggest dry dock facilities in Europe, as well as creating a major opportunity for the Tees Valley to become a key centre in the rapidly expanding area of wind power technology."

A "change of use" application is included in the proposal to allow Able UK to dismantle ships. The yard made international headlines in 2003 when it brought four United States Navy "ghost ships" across the Atlantic to be scrapped in Hartlepool.

A High Court judge barred Able from dismantling the ships in December 2003, ruling that its licence to dispose of "marine structures" did not extend to ships. The ruling followed a lengthy campaign by environmental campaigners against Able's plans.

The Hartlepool yard ( which turned over pounds 25m last year ( is looking to lease out shipbuilding and wind turbine construction facilities if its new application is approved. It will retain the quays, giving it the capacity to handle marine structures of up to 25,000 tonnes.

The plan could add pounds 10m to sales annually, and bolster Able's 250-strong payroll.

Mr Stephenson said: "Clearly there is the potential for creating very significant numbers of new jobs as the project develops. Talks with a number of interested parties are continuing. We have a number of companies lined up."
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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Jan 19, 2005
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