As Teesworks marks its second anniversary, Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen offers a very personal view of the former steelworks site that has become the focal point of the future of the region.

 

The Redcar steelworks was part of the Teesside skyline for more than 100 years.

The workplace for sons, fathers and grandfathers.

It was the works that built the world.

Its steel protected Winston Churchill and his war Cabinet during the Blitz, holds up some of the tallest buildings in the world and is used in some of our most impressive bridges.

Read more: The death of Tees steel

Teesworks now has a clear mission - to breathe new life into the former steelworks site and create thousands of good-quality, well paid jobs for local workers.

Having battled for three years to get control of all the land from SSI, with our amazing private sector partners we put rocket boosters under plans to get the site investor ready.

The Northern Echo: Ben Houchen at the entrance to TeesworksBen Houchen at the entrance to Teesworks

What followed was the start of the biggest and most complex demolition programme in the UK for a generation. This has seen 11 major demolition contracts completed across the site, including numerous explosive demolitions to bring down major iron and steelmaking assets. Through demolition and land remediation over 600 skilled and well-paid jobs have been created.

Now, two years to the day since we launched Teesworks the majority of the iron and steelmaking infrastructure has been demolished, with what remains coming down in the next few months.

With old facilities coming down, steel is going up.

Earlier this month I was joined by over 250 people, including Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng and South Korean Ambassador to the UK, on site for the ground breaking of SeAH Wind’s world-beating monopile manufacturing facility.

The Northern Echo: The vast Teesworks siteThe vast Teesworks site

Covering 1.13 million square feet, the mammoth state-of-the-art factory will be the biggest monopile manufacturing factory in the world. And at £400m it will also be the South Korean firm's biggest ever international investment.

By coming to Teesworks SeAH Wind are bringing with them 2,250 good-quality, well paid jobs for local workers, including 750 highly skilled operational jobs when the site is fully up and running in just two years’ time.

The Northern Echo: Signing the deal with SeAH WindSigning the deal with SeAH Wind Having the right infrastructure in place is critical for securing massive investments like SeAH, that’s why we’re cracking on and building our 1km long heavy lift South Bank Quay. All of the 156 piles have been driven into the ground to form the new quay wall with the first 450m of the deep-water berth ready early next year. We’ve been able to make this huge progress thanks to the £107m secured from the UK Infrastructure Bank - their first ever investment.

Away from offshore wind Circular Fuels is set to build a pioneering £150m waste to gas facility that will take non-recyclable waste from households and industry and convert it into a safe, cost-effective, and clean burning fuel.

During construction the plant will create more than 200 jobs, with 50 direct roles when it begins its operations in 2024. When fully up and running, it will have the capacity to produce 50,000 tonnes of fuel per year.

At the centre of our region’s clean energy ambitions lies Net Zero Teesside. This ground breaking carbon capture project could have been built anywhere in the world, but Teesside beat off stiff competition from 26 other countries.

This multi-billion-pound, game changing investment represents a huge vote of confidence in Teesside and our amazing workforce. It will create 5,500 direct jobs for local workers during construction and add £450million to the economy each year.

When complete it will capture up to 10million tonnes of CO2 emissions each year, equivalent to the emissions from three million homes.

Two years on from the launch of Teesworks, the 4,500 acres of land that was once home to the Redcar steelworks has been reborn as the UK largest industrial zone and home to the UK’s biggest and first operational freeport.

The impact of the Teesside Freeport cannot be underestimated. Over the next five years our freeport will create over 18,000 jobs and pump billions of pounds into our local economy.

Since we officially unveiled our freeport last November, we’ve had huge interest from global companies looking to invest and create jobs in the industries of the future. In the weeks and months ahead, we will hopefully be able to announce that even more companies will be making Teesworks their home in order to power forward the cleaner, healthier and safer jobs of the future.

 

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