Ambitious plans for a multi-million pound fish and food park in Fleetwood have been given the green light, it will be announced today.
Jubilant Fleetwood MP Eric Ollerenshaw, who has campaigned for the project, said a £2.5m Regional Growth Fund grant from the Government will provide a massive boost for the town with up to 150 new jobs.
He said: “I am delighted – it has been worth the wait. This will unlock further money and lead to news jobs and regeneration for Fleetwood.”
Now Fleetwood’s already thriving fish process and selling businesses will be in line for a relocation to new state-of-the art premises on land south of Fleetwood docks.
The news could also kick-start another project – an innovative £60m energy recovery plant which will operate on an adjacent site and use recyclable waste to power the fish park’s refrigeration system.
Reform Energy plc’s plans were first given planning permission in 2011 but only now can this scheme, cited by the company a key element in the economic case for the fish park, press ahead with 40 new jobs in prospect.
The bid for Government cash was put in by Reform Energy for the fish park itself, strongly endorsed by Mr Ollerenshaw and Wyre Council.
The Government grant will allow work to start on building new premises, close to the Three Lights pub, that will allow the fish processing industry to relocate from its current base at the docks.
And it is hoped the cash will unlock private sector investment that will fund the energy recovery plant, as well as allowing Associated British Ports (ABP) to redevelop the land freed up by the move.
Mr Ollerenshaw says it will mean the already multi-million pound fish industry can expect to create up to 150 new jobs, in what he calls the “Billingsgate of the North”.
The MP added: “It’s wonderful news for Fleetwood. It has taken 10 years to happen but it has been worth fighting for. By taking these businesses out of dilapidated premises, they will be able to expand by around 25 per cent and there will be a significant knock-on effect for trade and growth.
“This scheme is more than a fish and food park, it will carry with it so much regeneration for Fleetwood, especially around the docks.”
The good news comes exactly a week after a key fact-finding visit to Fleetwood by Penny Mordaunt, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government. The minister said she was highly impressed with the Fleetwood project’s potential and the way sectors of the community were already working together.
She said: “I think there’s obviously a tremendous history with trawling and all the industry that comes from the fishing industry here and we really want to see a renaissance in that.
“The funding (could) really unlock the potential of this site to upgrade the fish processing facilities here, but also unlock the full potential for other businesses to come in.”
Prime Minister David Cameron added: “Conservatives including Eric Ollerenshaw are backing businesses to create more jobs.”
The fish industry in Fleetwood already generates £135m-a-year, and employs more than 600 people, making it the town’s single biggest form of industry.
It sees fish caught in other areas, mainly Scotland, brought into the town by road and prepared in Fleetwood for markets all over Britain and also abroad.
Those in the industry itself previously stated they would welcome the news.
Paul Wilson, who owns Oban Fish Selling in Wyre Dock, said: “It can only be good thing. Having all the merchants together in new decent premises would be really good.”
John Potter, spokesman for Reform Energy said Fleetwood will become one of “the leading locations in the UK for energy recovery technology”.
He said: “Reform Energy intends to use the plant as a showpiece for other generation and regeneration projects across the region.
“The energy recovery system chosen by Reform is designed to efficiently use waste material from commercial sources that would otherwise only be disposed of to landfill.
“This development will bring a new economic energy to Fleetwood with the creation of the fish park and also addresses two issues dominating the green agenda – delivering more energy generation from sustainable resources and reducing waste going to landfill.”