A NORTH-EAST port’s expansion helped the region power ahead in construction market in May, a report has said.

A survey says the Port of Tyne, in South Tyneside, was partly responsible for the region making up a quarter of all UK infrastructure contracts.

The report, from Barbour ABI, which supplies data to the Office for National Statistics, says North-East contracts in the period were worth £284m.

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The figure accounted for 25.8 per cent of all contracts across the UK, and was an increase on the 23.9 per cent recorded in the same month last year.

The value of projects in May, totalling £1.1bn based on a three-month rolling average, was also up 6.8 per cent on April, but 22.8 per cent lower than May 2013.

Port of Tyne bosses last year revealed £180m plans to create hundreds of jobs in a warehouse development to store thousands of tonnes of wood pellets for the renewable energy market.

The port, which is the UK's largest car exporter and the fourth-largest coal importer, says the proposals include extending its Riverside Quay by 100 metres, laying railway lines and closing a public byway.

It has also invested £6m in a 750-tonne gantry crane, which bosses say is increasing production by handling 13 containers across a vessel's deck.

Michael Dall, Barbour ABI lead economist, said: “May was another great month for infrastructure construction in the North-East, largely attributable to the Port of Tyne expansion.

“Big utilities projects dominated the UK infrastructure sector this month, accounting for 43 per cent of the total value of contracts awarded.

“Boosted by a financial update to the national infrastructure plan in the Budget, this type of construction looks set to prosper in the North-East over the coming years.”

Last week, The Northern Echo revealed the port is talking to an international firm, focused on wind turbine production, which could set up base in the North-East.

Andrew Moffat, chief executive, said Siemens’ decision to build a £160m turbine factory on the River Humber was evidence companies were looking to the North.

He added: “The company has looked around and said that, if they come to the UK, they will come here.”

The port revealed record cargo volumes and turnover for a fifth consecutive year, with cargo increasing to 8.1 million tonnes in 2013 and turnover at £73m.