Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng has brushed aside suggestions that he might have been holed up in Downing Street as the Prime Minister resigned today, as he came to Teesside instead for the start of work on a £400m factory.

At the formal groundbreaking ceremony for SeAH Wind Ltd’s offshore wind facility, the first major private sector investment beginning construction at a UK Freeport, Mr Kwarteng told guests in a huge marquee at the side of a vast 90-acre site of remediated land: "Somebody asked me yesterday, what was I going to be doing? And so I said I'm going up to Teesside.

Read more: Twenty construction roles at SeAH Wind’s £400m facility

"They half expected me to be part of the delegation to see the Prime Minister, and that, I think, contrasted what real activity in a real place like this means with the political parlour games that are going on in Westminster, which sadly, I think have gone on too long.

The Northern Echo: Mary Lanigan, Leader of Redcar & Cleveland Borough Council, with SeAH Wind CEO Joonsung Lee and Ben Houchen on the siteMary Lanigan, Leader of Redcar & Cleveland Borough Council, with SeAH Wind CEO Joonsung Lee and Ben Houchen on the site

"I think it's really good that we're going to go in and get some resolution on this. And as I was looking at the video, I was thinking about the contrast between the day to day political experience of government, and the ups and downs and the dramas and the consistency of investment, and the permanence of the jobs here and the longevity of that impact.

Read more: Teesside Freeport joins Level Up campaign for jobs and investment

"There's no reason to doubt that the investment here and the community impact, this wealth-creating force will last for many, many years, generations beyond the heart of the hurly burly of Westminster life. I'm thrilled to be here today, I wouldn't miss it."

The £400m SeAH project is set to become the biggest of its kind in the world and create 750 direct jobs, with a further 1,500 indirect jobs in the supply chain during construction. It will be five times the size of the Amazon factories cropping up around the region.

More than 1m square feet


The 1.13million sq ft facility will produce bases for offshore wind turbines and will be based at Redcar’s Teesworks, the UK’s biggest industrial zone. It is the first scheme driven by private sector investment to begin construction at any UK Freeport.

When complete in about two years, the facility is expected to produce between 100 and 150 monopiles per year which will be transported directly from the factory to Teesworks’ under-construction South Bank Quay before heading to the North Sea for installation using specialised pile driving equipment.

The Northern Echo: How the completed factory will lookHow the completed factory will look

Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen told the Business Secretary: "The comeback is always greater than the setback - and maybe you can take that back to Westminster and inform our colleagues - get the chin up, we've got to move on.

"That's the beauty of devolution - the fact that whatever goes on elsewhere in national politics, the fact that we're able to take back a level of control and autonomy means that we can ride the waves of uncertainties that often come in national politics, or we can just get on with the job. And today is testament to that, irrespective of the winds of politics going on elsewhere.

“This is a monumental day years in the making. Since 2017 we’ve had a challenging time to secure all of the land at Teesworks and have worked hard to get it remediated and investor-ready as quickly as possible. Now we’ve finally got to the good part.

“The first building blocks are now in place to create hundreds of high-quality, well-paid jobs for people across Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool for generations to come. And those numbers will only grow as the other transformational projects we’ve got lined up mark us out as the driving force behind the UK’s low carbon ambitions.” 

SeAH CEO persuaded by Houchen


President & CEO of SeAH Steel Holdings Joonsung Lee said Ben Houchen had persuaded him to turn away from another possible site: "I was sitting next to Ben at a dinner in London. Although he knew at the time that SeAH Wind was already committed to another site, and was not looking at this site, he still told me all about his big plans for Teesside and how people's lives will change. I came away with great admiration and respect for Ben's commitment to the region and I made the decision to relocate to Teesside.

“We are starting SeAH’s future with you here in Teesside. Once again, SeAH will be supporting one of the most critical industries of our time, offshore wind, which is at the core of UK’s net zero strategy. SeAH Wind will be the first XXL monopile foundation fabrication facility in the UK. With this massive factory it will signal a successful revival of the manufacturing sector in Teesside, as well as setting a great example for the UK government’s initiative to support a green industrial revolution.”