Potential windfall for city engineers

ENGINEERING firms across the Sheffield region could be ideally placed to benefit from plans to build a multi-million-pound manufacturing plant for offshore wind turbines in Hull.

Siemens Wind Power has named Associated British Ports' Alexandra Dock site in Hull as its preferred location for the plant and Sheffield Chamber of Commerce executive director, Richard Wright says that creates a significant opportunity for local manufacturers.

"The real opportunity for Sheffield City Region, is to supply the parts from here," Mr Wright told The Star.

"Some of the parts are so big, and the demand so great, that new factories will be required on the Humber itself, but there is a massive demand for smaller items and materials that stretches down the supply chain and we are well poised to fulfill that demand."

Mr Wright says up to 11,000 turbines standing more than 150 meters (490 feet) above the water will be built and installed off the coast around the UK, with the vast majority being in three fields off the East Coast of England.

"This is a massive project for the UK, The first objective was to have these built in the UK, rather than abroad, and the Siemens announcement underpins that. We hope that further announcements will follow from other manufacturers, although Siemens is by far the biggest," said Mr Wright.

Sheffield has the additional attraction of already being the place where Siemens VIA's UK metals technologies business has its headquarters.

"Jon Stewart, director of Siemens VAI, which operates out of the Sheffield Business Park, will become Chamber President in 2012," said Mr Wright.

"Siemens has already invested heavily in this region and this new investment in the UK looks like continuing.

We look forward to Jon's Presidency – it seems like ideal timing for the city."

"This news backs up a number of things we have been saying at the Chamber for some time. It is tough at the moment and competition is fierce and we recognise that, but there are opportunities in many areas.

"The world has not stopped and companies that do the right things and take a strategic approach to their business can build a very successful future."

Regional development agency Yorkshire Forward says Siemens is the market leader in offshore wind turbines and its selection of the Humber will be a catalyst to the development of a wider manufacturing cluster in the region.

Yorkshire Forward executive director of business, Simon Hill, said: "This potential investment is a huge boost to the strong supply chain which exists in the region and the highly skilled workforce that resides here, adding to Yorkshire and Humber's position as a centre for renewable energies industry, particularly for offshore wind".

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