A LEADING marine engineering firm, responsible for the safe running of major wind farms across Europe, will create more than 30 North-East jobs in a £1m expansion.

Tekmar, a specialist in subsea protective cabling for the renewable energy industry, is building a research and development centre and moving into larger premises to help maintain its strong order book.

The firm, which employs 75 people, is based on Newton Aycliffe Business Park, County Durham, and will more than treble its headquarters to 102,000sq ft, with bosses saying they want to use the expansion as a catalyst to increase work in the oil and gas industries.

It has supplied more than 1,000 cable protection systems for developments in the UK and Europe during the last five years, working on Denmark's Anholt wind farm, which is the country's largest wind farm powering 223,000 homes, and delivering cable protection to Alpha Ventus, Germany's first offshore wind farm.

It also developed watertight seals for the now operational Teesside wind farm, off the coast of Redcar, designing a product to stop corrosion between turbine monopiles and underground cabling.

The firm is a member of business development organisation, NOF Energy, and says it wants to take on more staff during the next 12 months.

James Richie, Tekmar chief executive, said: “This expansion will enable us to expand our offerings in the oil and gas sector, while continuing to grow our presence in the offshore wind sector.

“It is very satisfying to be able to create new jobs in North-East England, and it demonstrates there are opportunities for skilled people in this region and that it is an attractive proposition for engineers and skilled technicians looking to develop their careers.”

“We operate in a global market and this investment will enable us to maintain and grow our position in the supply chain by building on our impressive track record.

“We are very proud to be at the forefront of the subsea technology sector and this growth demonstrates the increasingly prominent role UK companies have in the energy sector supply chain.”

Joanne Leng MBE, NOF deputy chief executive, said Tekmar was a respected firm in the global offshore energy industry.

She said: “The company is part of the strong North-East subsea sector, and its expansion highlights the confidence members of the supply chain have in the future of the energy sector.

“Their ability to deliver the technology, skills and services ensure they remain at the heart of the growth of the sector.”