Peel Ports unveils vision for 1,700 jobs in Ayrshire

Peel Ports has revealed plans with the potential to support 1,700-plus jobs at a major hub and industrial centre in North Ayrshire.

An aerial view of the Hunterston PARC development in North Ayrshire. Picture: Ant Clausen
An aerial view of the Hunterston PARC development in North Ayrshire. Picture: Ant Clausen

The port operator today unveiled its vision to develop the site at Hunterston Port and Resource Centre (Parc), which it is aiming to repurpose from its previous role as a major importer of coal for Scottish power stations.

The company estimates that its proposals could boost the Scottish economy by more than £140 million, and forecasts that the site could support more than 1,700 jobs.

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Peel Ports, owner and operator of sites at Liverpool, Heysham, Manchester Ship Canal, Medway, Clydeport and Great Yarmouth, is seeking to repurpose Hunterston.

Potential uses set out in today’s master plan include redeveloping the site as a liquid natural gas terminal, train manufacturing plant, and plastics recycling and storage facility.

Peel Ports claims the development could “support sustainable North Ayrshire communities for generations to come”, for example by building a more “resilient” local economy, creating jobs that stimulate education, training and skills development activities in the area.

The site includes a 300-acre brownfield footprint, deepwater, and rail connections, and a 230 metre by 130m dry dock capable of accommodating large floating assets.

At peak volume in 2005, the port handled 10.3 million tonnes of coal. However, there has been no market for coal imports in the area since the closure of Longannet power station in 2016.

Hunterston Marine Yard, which covers 100 acres of reclaimed land, was until recently used as an onshore wind turbine test centre. The two turbines are currently in the process of being removed.

The publication of the master plan, prepared with North Ayrshire Council, the Scottish Government, Scottish Enterprise and several businesses, marks the start of a six-week consultation process.

The company is now calling on local residents and businesses to share their opinions about potential uses of the site and will publish a revised plan in 2020 after taking this feedback into account.

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Andrew Hemphill, port director at Peel Ports Clydeport, said: “No other single site in the UK offers Hunterston’s unrivalled combination of deepwater, extensive land area and transport links.

“This historic industrial site has the potential to transform Scotland’s prospects in a variety of key economic sectors, providing jobs, skills development, import and export opportunities for decades to come.

“The intended benefits that we have set out can only be achieved with the input of the local community, public sector agencies, and commercial partners. That will help us to create a final version that reflects the shared ambitions of the people who live, work and invest in North Ayrshire.”

Kenneth Gibson, MSP for Cunninghame North, added: “It is a prime site for investment in infrastructure and attracting new companies.

“Developing the site is a one-in-a-generation chance for the region to lead the way with innovative and sustainable industries, potentially in the circular economy or renewable energy.”