Some of the region’s biggest business leaders have announced their unwavering support for the proposed £200 million Yorkshire Energy Park, reinforcing how it will be ‘imperative’ for inward investment, job creation and economic growth.
The Yorkshire Energy Park is a potential new development located on the former Hedon Aerodrome site on the outskirts of Hull, within the village of Preston South, to the west of Hedon, and will create up to 4,480 jobs.
The energy park will include an energy centre, data centre and disaster recovery suite, space for established and start-up businesses to grow, education, training and research facilities, alongside associated short-stay accommodation, an outdoor building materials and testing facility, and brand new sports facilities for the community.
It will also include 54 hectares of green space, protected for 150 years for wildlife, as well as another 94 hectares of open space on a nearby site for wintering birds.
Plans for the Yorkshire Energy Park are expected to go before East Riding of Yorkshire’s Council’s Planning Committee in the coming months.
Tim Rix CBE has been involved in building the reputation of the Humber as the “Energy Estuary” in his capacity as Chairman of J.R. Rix & Sons, Vice Chair of the Humber Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), former Chair of the Hull City Leadership Board and Chairman of the Green Port Growth Programme.
He said: “It is imperative that the Yorkshire Energy Park is supported and approved at planning so that this area is able to provide land and facilities to support the new, emerging industries that are keen to locate here and to employ people in our Humber area.
“If we cannot make new facilities available, we have all been wasting our time.”
The Yorkshire Energy Park is being proposed by locally-based Sewell Group, Hessle-based communications company MS3 Networks and development company Chiltern Group, and an outline planning application was submitted in May 2017.
The proposed location for the Yorkshire Energy Park is the only available site on the north bank of the Humber which has a natural gas supply of sufficient size and capacity already on the site, along with a National Grid connection in close proximity.
As a result, the park can provide clean, reliable energy at around 20% less than the market cost for businesses located on the park, and energy can also be sold back to the grid.
A number of multi-national and national brand names have shared their intention to be part of the scheme once planning is secured, including E.ON, Asanti Data Centres, Dell, and Legal & General.
Hull College Group, one of the largest further and higher education colleges in the country, and Warwick Manufacturing Group (WMG), an academic department of the University of Warwick and one of the world’s leading education and research groups, have also backed the plans.
Education and training will be in place for local people to become trained in new industries, equipping them with the skills to take advantage of career opportunities at the Yorkshire Energy Park in the future.
Andy Parkinson, Chair of the Humber Bondholders, which markets the Humber on the national and international stage, called on key decision-makers to consider the energy park’s strategic importance to the local area.
He said: “The region is seeing unprecedented levels of inward investment and renewed confidence following a sustained period of economic decline during the last recession, which saw the Humber fall further behind to other competing economic centres around the UK.
“A cornerstone to the region’s renaissance has been the pursuit of new markets that have been created in the energy sector.
“We’ve already seen significant investment from Siemens and Orsted, the mobilisation of Energy Works and the recent announcement from Drax for their ambitious plans for carbon capture. This is alongside a range of other related energy supply chain developments all of which has given the Humber a platform to further grow its economy.
“The Yorkshire Energy Park is one of those opportunities.”
David Kilburn, Executive Chairman of MKM Building Supplies, said the energy park is “vital” for attracting local and international investment to the area.
He said: “We have a huge need for this kind of investment and I hope the economic benefits of it will be considered as part of the application.
“There will certainly be significant benefits both directly and indirectly to our local economy – a real opportunity not to be missed.”
Phil Ascough, former President of Hull and Humber Chamber of Commerce, was part of the management team which led the Press Association’s (PA) move from Leeds to Howden in 2000 and said he believes the Yorkshire Energy Park could bring similar benefits.
He said: “What I saw was an inward investment which provided employment and training opportunities for hundreds of young people at a global centre of excellence and which transformed the fortunes of the business community in and around Howden.
“It generated much-increased volumes of trade for local retailers, food and beverage outlets, hotels, petrol stations, taxi operators and more.
“This, in turn, supported the regeneration of the town itself, as local firms expanded into refurbished premises and more businesses were attracted into the town.
“The economic revival of Howden even led to the railway station becoming a stopping point for Hull Trains.
“Now, I’m not suggesting for a minute that approving the energy park planning application would bring the railway back to Holderness. But I and my Chamber colleagues do feel it would trigger significant economic benefits at the development site with very lucrative spin-offs for the region as a whole.
“It would also send a clear message that our part of the world is open for business and ready to support businesses in taking a positive, creative and innovative approach to tackling current and future economic challenges.”
Support for the development has also come from Hull City Council Leader Stephen Brady OBE, former East Riding of Yorkshire Council Leader and Deputy Chair of the Humber LEP Stephen Parnaby OBE, and former Hull West and Hessle MP Alan Johnson.