THE construction of a major quay which will ultimately unlock the potential to redevelop a former steelworks site took a big step forward over the bank holiday weekend with a huge engineering project.

On Saturday, a 19-hour operation saw concrete pouring be carried out for the new £107m heavy lift quay at South Bank at Teesworks.

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The pouring started at 3am on Saturday and ran continuously for 19 hours, just to fill in one section of the quay, which will be used to help transform the site of the former Redcar steelworks.

Around 3,000 tonnes of concrete was used for the mammoth task, which involved 160 wagon loads and more than 50 workers on site, Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen described it as a “phenomenal piece of construction and engineering right here in Teesside all to get us ready to export our fantastic manufacturing expertise to the world once again”.

Read more: Michael Gove confirms Teesworks investigation to be launched

Landside work at South Bank Quay is due for completion in the summer of 2023, with planned completion of the entire project expected in the late autumn of 2023.

Officials say the 1km quay will support ambitions to make the site the UK’s premier offshore wind hub and will be used by GE Renewable Energy to load out and ship its cutting-edge wind turbine blades to Dogger Bank wind farm when it establishes its facility adjacent to the quay.

The quay also forms part of the wider 4.5m sq ft of advanced manufacturing and industrial space set to be built on 450acres of land next to the wharf.

The Northern Echo:

Martin Corney, Teesworks Partner who was onsite on Saturday, said: “From 3am on Saturday morning the teams worked tirelessly to pour around 3,000tonnes of concrete as part of the construction of the South Bank Heavy Lift Quay.

“It was a mammoth task with 160 wagon loads throughout the day, more than 50 staff involved in the operation all completed on time and safely.

“There’ll be one final concrete pour next Saturday to complete the lift pad with the Quay expected to be complete by the autumn.”

Mr Corney also described the interest from companies looking to use the quay as “phenomenal”.

Last week, Michael Gove confirmed an investigation into Teesworks will be launched after 'serious allegations' were made about the site.

Pressure has been piling on the Government in recent weeks to launch an investigation into the site after Labour's Shadow Levelling Up Secretary Lisa Nandy called for a review and Mr Houchen echoed her request later the same day.

Read more: Mayoral candidates pledge transparency amid Teesworks row

The Levelling Up Secretary said since 'serious allegations of corruption, wrongdoing and illegality have been made', he will ask an independent panel to 'address these accusations directly, and to report on the governance arrangements at STDC including how decisions are made, as well as looking at the value achieved for the investment of public money on the site'

Concerns were raised about Teesworks after a share transfer saw companies owned by Mr Corney and Mr Musgrave – JC Musgrave Capital, Northern Land Management Ltd, and DCS Industrial Limited – increase their Teesworks Ltd shares from 50% to 90%, leaving the STDC with 10%, rather than the 50% it had held before.

Originally, the aim was to develop 20,000 jobs over 25 years at Teesworks, with public money used to remediate some parts of the site and then cash from investors would be reinvested to remediate the next plot.

However, Mr Houchen has previously said the remediation work needed to be speeded up so investors could take advantage of time-limited freeport tax breaks, which will be reviewed in 2026. This is the argument behind moving to a 90/10 shares split, so private investment could be brought in quicker.

Mr Corney and Mr Musgrave did not take part in a public tender process to acquire shares in Teesworks in the first place (or when the shares were increased to 90%), however, Mr Houchen has said without the developers the scheme would not have happened.

Levelling Up Minister and Bishop Auckland MP Dehenna Davison said the Government had seen “no evidence of corruption, wrongdoing, or illegality”.

But Labour say the plans for the investigation "fall way short of what is needed”, accusing the Government of ‘bottling the process’ for not involving the National Audit Office (NAO).

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An NAO spokesperson said:“The NAO does not have a statutory power to conduct examinations of individual local authorities and associated bodies.

"The NAO can agree to carry out such work following a request by a Minister. This would require agreement between the Minister and the relevant bodies to be examined, under Section 6(3)(d) of the National Audit Act 1983.

“In discussions with government officials last week, the NAO indicated that it was willing and able to carry out an examination of the South Tees Development Corporation and the redevelopment of Teesside Steelworks, if the necessary agreement was in place.

"The government has decided to make alternative arrangements for looking into these matters, as is its prerogative.”