WORKERS at a North-East firm, which makes specialist subsea trenching technology for the offshore energy sector, are facing redundancy.

Soil Machine Dynamics, of Wallsend, near Newcastle, say it has been hit by a slowdown in the offshore wind market, and The Northern Echo understands almost 40 permanent members of staff are now in a 30-day consultation with bosses.

The company, which earlier this year won its third consecutive Queen's Award for Enterprise, makes remotely-operated vehicles which lay high-voltage cabling underwater at depths of up to 2,000m, and said it was disappointed at having to carry out the restructure.

However, it confirmed it will still employ more than 300 workers.

A spokesperson said: “This is a decision that has not been taken lightly, however, it is important to serve the best long-term interests of the business and our customers.

“Continued uncertainty in the UK offshore wind market has led to a slowdown in this sector, which was a major driver for growth last year.

“Combined with a new organisational structure, now is the right time to adjust the size of the organisation, though overall employment will remain above 2011 levels.

“The intention through this exercise and the revised organisational structure is to ensure the long-term health and continued growth of the underlying business, and to improve customer and market focus.

“We place great value on its role as an employer and fairness and transparency throughout this process is extremely important as it will affect people’s livelihoods.

“Over the next 30 days, the business will follow a defined process including full consultation with staff.”