Ex-Newcastle United chairman Freddy Shepherd’s latest riverside investment will secure future orders and jobs for the region’s skilled workers.
The ex-Toon tycoon’s vision for Neptune Energy Park will now include Europe’s largest offshore testing tank after Newcastle City Council’s planning committee voted unanimously in favour of the proposal on Friday.
Mr Shepherd said the tank would lead to 20 energy jobs and continue the regeneration of the former shipyard site at Walker, Newcastle, with cutting edge industry for the oil and gas sectors.
The plan involves filling in the last remaining dry dock at the site, which was once the Neptune shipyard and later part of the Swan Hunter company, but leaving a section at the end fronting on to the river which can be filled with water to test equipment.
Three of the four dry docks were covered over several years ago, and the remaining one will now be turned over to land using 57,200 cubic metres of material from the nearby Fisher Street embankment - which the Shepherd’s also own.
Once the tank has been constructed, a 24-hour crawler crane on wheels will be able to run from on a set of tracks from the facility to the river’s edge to lift in up to 400 tonnes of equipment at the time to see how it copes under water.
Mr Shepherd’s brother Bruce said: “We are very pleased that the planning application has been passed. We can now start the development and secure future orders for regeneration and development.
“It’s a major development for the Neptune Energy Park which will serve the major manufacturing companies in the UK for testing their products in oil, gas and renewable energy.”
There were no objections to the plan and the hearing, which lasted just ten minutes, and saw councillors unanimously vote in favour of the development.
The Shepherds have spent £60m developing the Neptune Energy Park and the tank will serve the major manufacturing companies in the UK for testing their products in oil, gas and renewable energy.
It will also be a major asset to Neptune’s National Centre for Subsea and Offshore Engineering.
Neptune yard was famed for building the RMS Mauretania in the early 1900s on behalf of Cunard.