THE region is set for a major coup after a US energy company unveiled plans to build a second revolutionary energy plant in the Tees Valley, creating hundreds of jobs.
The announcement that Air Products wants to construct a waste conversion facility on reclaimed land next to the North Tees chemical complex near Billingham, comes two months after it confirmed the UK’s first ever plant of this type was being built in the region.
If plans are approved by Stockton Borough Council it could see the region host the world’s two largest plants that use advanced gasification technology to turn rubbish destined for landfill into energy.
It is anticipated that the new facility, which will sit adjacent to the first plant on the Tees Valley Enterprise Zone, will create up to 50 permanent jobs and provide work for about 700 building workers during the three-year construction period. The company claimed that it could generate energy for up to 50,000 North-East homes a year.
Air Products spokesperson Lisa Jordan explained why the company had given the region a second vote of confidence.
“As with our first renewable energy plant, the availability of skilled labour, industrial land, good access to electrical infrastructure, and excellent road links were important factors in our decision to pursue an additional renewable energy plant in Teesside,” she said.
“We estimate that over 1,400 people would be employed during the construction of both plants.”
Alex Cunningham, MP for Stockton North, welcomed the latest plans: “I was delighted to play a small part in bringing the first Air Products plant, now under construction, to Teesside but to learn of this huge vote of confidence by the company in our area by confirming a potential second plant is quite stunning and will sustain hundreds of construction jobs over several years," he said.
“It shows that Teesside is successful at attracting world class technologies and corporations that create jobs and support the country’s renewable energy agenda.  By diverting waste from landfill the plant offers an environmentally-friendly solution for the production of renewable energy in the North East”
The proposed scheme has also been welcomed by local business organisations including NEPIC, North East Chamber of Commerce, CPI and Tees Valley Unlimited. Air Products will host an exhibition about its plans next week. The exhibition, open to members of the public, will be held at the Low Grange Community Centre, Billingham on Monday, October 29, 2.30pm - 8.00pm and at the Port Clarence Community Centre, Middlesbrough on Tuesday October 30, 9.30am – 1.00pm.  The sessions offer an opportunity for local people to learn more about the proposed project and to quiz Air Products’ staff in advance of a planning application being put to the local authority before the end of the year. The plan also requires consent from the Environment Agency and as part of this process, Air Products will be consulting over the coming months organisations such as Natural England and Northumbrian Water.
Building work on the first multi-million pounds plant, which is set to begin production in 2014, started last month.