By Louise Drewery on 12 November 2018
A business support agency which has helped to create thousands of jobs says it will be able to help even more people and grow if the proposed £200 million Yorkshire Energy Park is given the go-ahead by planners.
The Yorkshire Energy Park is a potential new development located on the former Hedon Aerodrome site on the outskirts of Hull, within the village of Preston South, to the west of Hedon, and will create up to 4,480 jobs.
If planning permission is granted by East Riding of Yorkshire’s Council’s Planning Committee in the coming weeks, the energy park will include an energy centre, data centre and disaster recovery suite, space for established and start-up businesses, education, training and research facilities alongside associated short-stay accommodation, an outdoor building materials and testing facility, and sports facilities for the community.
Sirius, which is based in Hedon, was established by BP Chemicals Limited in 1999 to create new jobs in the local area and replace 300 jobs lost when the company’s Saltend site was restructured.
The original aim for Sirius was to recreate the jobs lost at the site through the provision of soft loans to startup ventures from a £1 million fund over a three year period. The target of 300 new jobs was achieved well ahead of schedule and Sirius has gone on to help create thousands jobs in the Hull, East Riding and York area.
Now, Alan Gordon-Freeman, Chief Executive Officer at Sirius, has announced his support for the energy park plans, with the support agency moving to the site if the scheme is approved.
With plans for incubator units to provide startup businesses with space to launch their ventures, to on-site advice and expertise given alongside this within a business centre, Mr Gordon-Freeman said the opportunities will be endless.
He said: “Since 1999, we have helped create well over 3,000 jobs. We give ongoing mentoring and support free to whoever comes in and we’ve helped everybody from insurance brokers and window cleaners to bigger businesses, such as those that grew to become Worldpay and webuyanycar.com.
“Relocating to the business centre on the Yorkshire Energy Park site will make us sustainable, so we can carry on offering our services. We will be able to do so much more and help more people.
“We don’t have incubator space available at the moment. There is nothing on this side of the city which is going to be able to deliver anything like this and we will be able to work with more people with good ideas, and help them to grow.
“At the moment, we help about 200 people a year to become self-employed or to set up a business. By giving support to existing businesses, that’s another 200 a year, and I estimate a 50% increase on that if the Yorkshire Energy Park is given the go-ahead.
“There are also going to be huge opportunities for small businesses to become involved in the supply chain work which will be created by the site itself.”
Mr Gordon-Freeman said the energy park development will also open up doors for Sirius to grow its own team as it strives to reach out to more people.
“We currently have a team of four and I see that increasing to six people directly employed by us if the plans get the go-ahead,” he said.
“I think the Yorkshire Energy Park is the best thing that could happen to that site. The opportunities, especially for youngsters of the future, in terms of apprenticeships, jobs, local wealth and pride, is immense, and I’m really pleased to be involved in it.
“I absolutely hope East Riding of Yorkshire Council’s Planning Committee says yes to the Yorkshire Energy Park – the economic benefits for our area are potentially huge.”
The Yorkshire Energy Park is being proposed by locally-based Sewell Group, Hessle-based communications company MS3 Networks and development company Chiltern Group, and an outline planning application was submitted in May 2017.
A number of multi-national and national brand names have already announced their support for the plans, including E.ON, Asanti, Dell, SSE, BYD and Legal & General.
Hull College Group, one of the largest further and higher education colleges in the country, and Warwick Manufacturing Group (WMG), an academic department of the University of Warwick and one of the world’s leading education and research groups, have also backed the plans.
This is in addition to the Humber Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), the region's biggest business body, Hull City Council Leader Stephen Brady, East Riding of Yorkshire Council Leader Stephen Parnaby and former Hull West and Hessle MP Alan Johnson.
The team behind the proposed development has worked in partnership with statutory agencies for three years to bring about this flagship project, putting the Humber region on the map, including more than 1,000 hours of public engagement to ensure the scheme has been developed with the community.
The fundamental reason for this site is the presence of a connection to the National Grid and it can offer clean, reliable energy at significantly less cost than the market for on-site users. Energy can also be sold back to the grid.
It is the only site on the north bank of the Humber where this grid connection exists with sufficient capacity for import/export of energy and where there is a piped natural gas fuel supply already on site.
Over the past two decades, Sirius has provided free advice to many businesses, including approximately 40 in the Holderness area.
The Rolling Pin, an artisan bakery and confectionary business in St Augustine’s Gate, Hedon, is among those who received support with business planning and funding, and has recently celebrated its first anniversary under the current ownership.
Co-owner Craig Morgan said: “We’ve had loads of support from Sirius and we are so grateful.
“They helped us with business plans and the finance side of things, and they put us on the right track with legal and business advice.
“I’m all for the Yorkshire Energy Park. We’re hoping people from the site will use us and other local shops because it’s needed. We’re growing as a business but this could be amazing.
“The potential for Sirius to grow with the energy park is massive. Their experience and knowledge is invaluable and the energy park will give them chance to help so many more businesses.”
Claire Harrison, Yorkshire Energy Park Project Director, said: “Job creation, apprenticeships and opening up new opportunities for businesses and generations to come is a fundamental part of the Yorkshire Energy Park development. We are looking ahead to the future and Sirius is doing exactly the same for those it helps and supports.
“Sirius has a proven track record of helping thousands of people to date and that is set to grow under these plans, which is a huge positive for the region.
“We’re delighted to have their backing for this development and can see the huge potential and opportunity for startup and existing businesses to grow with Sirius’ support.”