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Shipping Minister, MP Mike Penning, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport, visited Teesport operator PD Ports yesterday, as part of a region-wide visit of the North East.
Mr Penning, who is responsible for shipping, freight and logistics, was pleased to have the opportunity to tour Teesport, as the visit emphasises his message of the importance of portcentric and coastal shipping, which are seen as vital components in building and maintaining a strong UK economy.
The Minister visited PD Ports’ latest expansion project, undertaken by Hall Construction Services Ltd, which commenced at the beginning of this month. The new development will expand the port’s container handling capacity by almost 50%, helping to position Teesport as one of the UK’s major container hubs and building on a record growth in container volumes in 2010.
The visit also included a tour of MGT Power’s planned £400m Tees Renewable Energy Plant, on approved dockside land owned by PD Ports. The 300MW biomass power station will be one of the world's largest, generating enough electricity to power 600,000 homes.
David Robinson, PD Ports Group chief executive officer, said: “It has been a real honour to welcome the Minister to Teesside today. We have successfully demonstrated PD Ports’ developing capabilities as the business sees continued growth of the unitised and portcentric logistics sectors and an opening up of exciting emerging energy opportunities.
“Visits of this kind help our organisation work closely with Government, particularly the Minister and his colleagues in the Department for Transport, to keep the port, as one of our region’s key assets and areas of investment potential, foremost in their minds.”
The tour concluded with the Minister visiting the ASDA distribution centre at Teesport, a large cornerstone development located on the PD Ports site. ASDA, which opened the first portcentric import centre at Teesport in 2006, has now considerably reduced the volume of company trucks on the already over-burdened UK road network, leading to a saving of over 1.2m road miles.
Shipping Minister Mike Penning said: "With the vast majority of goods arriving in the UK by sea, ports are a vital piece of our national infrastructure jigsaw. I was delighted to see the great work being done at Teesport - in particular the supermarket distribution centre which not only promotes coastal shipping but it also removes thousands of trucks from the nation’s roads. I also applaud their commitment to tackling climate change - really raising the bar for renewable energy production."
Mr Penning’s tour of Teesport follows a number of MP visits to PD Ports in the last month, with Tom Blenkinsop, Alex Cunningham, Ian Swales and James Wharton all having offered to back proposed development plans, in particular in helping to raise the profile of Hartlepool in the offshore wind energy sector. PD Ports has also taken its plans to the House of Commons where port representatives recently attended the All Party Ports and Maritime Group conference.
Engaging with the Government and its MPs is a vital component in highlighting the potential opportunities for PD Ports in this emerging sector, as well as the potential economic benefits for the North East region.