A PORT operator has overhauled its quayside in a £22m development bosses say has delivered North-East jobs.

PD Ports has re-built 305 metres of loading space at Teesport, near Middlesbrough.

The firm says the move will allow the site to attract next generation ships, including larger vessels capable of hauling up to 70,000 tonnes.

The improvements have created 30 full-time jobs across cargo handling roles, with 21 positions already filled.

Regeneration body Tees Valley Unlimited (TVU) last night (Tuesday, June 9) praised the investment, hailing PD Ports’ crucial role in the North-East’s business landscape.

David Robinson, PD Ports’ group chief executive, said the project was supported by Government Regional Growth Fund (RGF) cash, and will be followed next month by the start of work on a further 245 metres of quay upgrades to raise capacity.

He said: “We need to ensure we can plan for, and respond to, the demands of our existing and new customers, and consistently provide a platform that delivers first-class service, now and over the long-term.

“We were pleased to have secured funding through the RGF to help deliver this project for which our application was supported by TVU.

“These works are an important addition to our wider growth plans at Teesport, which we are confident will help deliver success for the port, our customers and our stakeholders, while helping to regenerate the Teesside region and create jobs.”

Mr Robinson added the project was led by civil engineers McLaughlin and Harvey, with backing from consultants Royal Haskoning DHV and Turner & Townsend, and supported about 100 jobs in the construction phase.

Reacting to the quay work, Stephen Catchpole, TVU managing director, said: “Teesport is an extremely important industrial gateway.

“This expansion demonstrates how RGF finance is helping grow the commercial capabilities of Tees Valley as well as creating employment.

“The continued investment by PD Ports will further enhance the economic fabric of Tees Valley.”

The operator has invested heavily in Teesport to help safeguard hundreds of jobs, and works with Redcar-based SSI UK to ship steel to clients in the US, Europe and Thailand.

In February, the pair secured about 100 jobs after signing a new seven-year deal to continue their partnership.

Last year, PD Ports, which also supports Yorkshire Tea deliveries, welcomed the first train at a new £3m rail terminal, where it is working alongside Freightliner to strengthen connections between Teesport, Felixstowe and Southampton.