Shipyard centre could revive industry on the TyneNews // May 23, 2003
Top-level talks have started on the possibility of uniting many of the firms involved in these sectors into one multi-million-pound base.
"It is hoped that the park would help return the North East to its rightful place among the world's maritime elite and put the region in pole position when big money contracts come up for grabs," said the paper.
A number of the leading lights in the offshore and shipping world, including Swan Hunter, have already held discussions with regional development agency One NorthEast.
Although no location has been finalised, a partnership is taking shape which will be given the task of taking the initiative from the drawing board and making it happen.
The owner of Swan Hunter, Jaap Kroese, said he is very excited about the prospect of the park and believes it would bring huge benefits to both the companies themselves and the region as a whole.
One possible location mentioned by Mr Kroese is the site of the old Neptune Yard beside Swan Hunter in Wallsend. But other sites along the Tyne are also up for consideration.
He sees the creation of the park as potentially playing a key role in the way the region can cash in on the huge amounts of work expected to follow in the wake of the £2.9 billion contract to build two new Royal Navy aircraft carriers.
"I think we should aim to create one of the biggest parks of its type in Europe, possibly of around 100 acres. We could be talking about creating 2,000 jobs and an investment of around £50 million," said Kroese.
He added that there is land available on the banks of the Tyne to create the park and he is hoping all the companies involved in the offshore and shipbuilding industries will want to get involved.
"I have been very encouraged by the support shown by One NorthEast and the North East Marine Offshore Cluster for the project."
Mr Kroese said although no timescale has yet been put in place he would like to see work begin on the park within the next 18 months.