ONE of the world's largest wind farms could be springing up in the region.

Steel firm Corus and Northumberland-based Hexham Wind have asked Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council for permission to site 19 massive 140m-high wind turbines on derelict Corus land at Lackenby and Redcar in east Cleveland.

The £30m Tees Wind North Project will supply enough electricity to meet the needs of 30,000 households or 72,000 people - more than half the population of Redcar and Cleveland.

It would be the world's largest windfarm on a brownfield site and triple the amount of power harnessed from the wind in the region.

And in an area that has been devastated by mass manufacturing job losses - including 1,100 Corus workers on Teesside, the project could provide significant job opportunities.

Corus is expected to supply the steel and engineering services required for the wind farm.

The scheme is at the forefront of a series of regeneration plans for Teesside. The project was welcomed by Councillor David Walsh, leader of Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council.

"I am delighted Teesside is going to play its part in the investment and there are double plusses if we could look to use wind power as a way of supplying energy to manufacturing which could then have even greener credentials. I would like to see Teesside engineering expertise used as a centre for building such wind farms."

Dr Graham Hillier, construction director at Corus, said the company was keen to develop partnerships with the wind industry.

"It is an opportunity for us to build on our assets and skills to move into the rapidly-growing renewable energy sector. By applying to develop a wind farm on Teesside we are adding an additional asset to the existing operational site which will reduce carbon dioxide emissions and contribute to the Government's renewable energy targets."

David Still, General Manager at Amec Wind added: "The partnership between Corus, Amec, local government and development agencies behind the planning application also provides a valuable catalyst for local industry to diversify into this rapidly-growing market."

A planning application has just been received by the council and is expected to be decided in the New Year. Amec hopes to start work on the scheme in the spring.

Updated : 15:50, 20/12/01