A £600M energy project creating hundreds of North-East jobs has secured crucial Government support.

The Tees Renewable Energy Plant, capable of providing electricity for 600,000 homes, has been backed by a flagship Government energy reform programme.

Bosses say the factory, set to be based at Teesport, near Middlesbrough, will be one of the world's largest biomass power stations.

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Operated by MGT Teesside, a subsidiary of MGT Power, the plant is expected to create 150 permanent jobs and support about 1,000 construction and supply chain posts.

The power station will burn wood chips and pellets imported from the US, with the heat generated used by industrial and commercial customers across Teesside.

Building work is expected to take up to four years.

The project is one of eight Government-backed schemes aiming to support 8,500 jobs, attract £12bn of private sector investment and provide up to 14 per cent of the renewable electricity expected to be available by 2020.

Edward Davey, Energy and Climate Change Secretary, said the contracts represented the next phase in the UK's green energy drive.

He said: “These are the first investments from our reforms to build the world's first low carbon electricity market.

“Such reforms will see competition and markets attract tens of billions of pounds of vital energy investment, while reducing costs of clean energy to consumers.

“Moves like this will keep the lights on and tackle climate change by giving investors more certainty.”

The Government-backed projects include biomass conversion sites in Ashington, Northumberland, and Selby, North Yorkshire, with Dong Energy backed to produce 1,200 megawatts of power in an offshore development at Hornsea, East Yorkshire.

Further offshore wind farms are planned for Scotland, Merseyside, Norfolk and the Irish Sea.

Energi Coast, which represents the North-East's offshore renewable sector, says the projects could provide benefits for companies in the region.

Joanne Leng MBE, Energi Coast's deputy chairwoman, said: “This is a major step in the right direction of the UK offshore wind industry.

"It sends a clear signal to international developers that the ideal financial environment is being created for the creation of offshore wind projects in UK waters.

“In the North-East, there is a strong cluster of companies that have developed considerable expertise in the sector becoming viable supply chain solutions for operators.”