World-leading education and research group backs £200 million energy park plans

One of the world’s leading education and research groups has announced its support for the proposed £200 million Yorkshire Energy Park, highlighting the opportunity for the site to play a major part in energy innovation, training and skills development.

Warwick Manufacturing Group (WMG), an academic department of the University of Warwick, employs over 600 staff and delivers education programmes in seven countries, providing innovative solutions to industry through research, education and collaboration.

It has strong relationships with over 1,000 global companies, supports 1,800 small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) through dedicated programmes, and has seen over 35,000 students study with the department from 75 countries.

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 and SME growth, a National Centre of Excellence for education, training and research alongside associated short-stay accommodation, an outdoor building materials and testing facility, and new sports facilities for the community.

WMG says the proposed National Energy and Digital Technology College planned for the site will bring together leading organisations to generate new skills and training opportunities to meet the needs of end users on the park, as well as further afield on a national level.

Its backing of the Yorkshire Energy Park comes after Hull College Group, one of the largest further and higher education colleges in the country, also announced its support for the plans, stating the development will create new partnerships and open up exciting opportunities for students and local people.

They join a number of multi-national and national brand names who have already announced their support for the plans, including E.ON, Asanti, Dell, SSE, BYD and Legal & General, as well as the Humber Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), the region’s biggest business body.

This is in addition to backing from 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.

In a letter of support submitted to East Riding of Yorkshire Council, Archie MacPherson, CEO of WMG centre High Value Manufacturing Catapult, said: “Further to our previous support for this project, we have read with interest the recent positive press and cross-party political support for the £200 million Yorkshire Energy Park.

“Energy innovation is a major area of growth, not just for WMG, but for industry globally. The Energy Innovation Centre at WMG is a national facility for battery research across the research and development process.

“WMG is also a lead partner in the UK Battery Industrialisation Centre, a major national initiative with Coventry City Council and Coventry and Warwickshire local Enterprise Partnership, opening in 2020. Our ambitions around energy systems fit well with developments at the Yorkshire Energy Park.

“WMG, at the University of Warwick, is pleased to be collaborating the Yorkshire Energy Park partners and other educational establishments on a number of leading edge technology initiatives, which will be crucial to the future success of a post-Brexit UK.

“These currently include the smart battery storage technology, personal e-transport solutions, and the proposed National Energy and Digital Technology College to be located on the park.

“The college will bring together leading organisations to develop a continuum of training that is required to meet the skills needs of the occupiers on the park, and key growth sectors nationally.

“We understand that the Yorkshire Energy Park is in the process of engaging with UK Government to identify the most appropriate ways to support the project as a national inward investment initiative. WMG would be pleased to play a part in those discussions.”

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.

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 the import and export of energy, and where there is a piped natural gas fuel supply already on site.

WMG was founded by Professor Lord Kumar Bhattacharyya in 1980 to help reinvigorate UK manufacturing and it has grown into an international role model for how universities and business can successfully work together.

Since then, it has gone from strength-to-strength, with 13 centres and institutes, and is now building  new research centres which will contribute to the future of UK manufacturing and engineering. WMG’s current major capital projects include a National Automotive Innovation Centre, Materials Engineering Centre, a new building to accommodate its Special Vehicle Projects Team, and a new Degree Apprentice Centre.

Yorkshire Energy Park Chairman Chris Turner said: “WMG’s support for the Yorkshire Energy Park and its desire to be based on the site is a major positive and will open up significant research, training and development opportunities.

“One of its fundamental aims is to champion and support young engineers, scientists and technologists, while researching, developing, advising, training and collaborating with businesses and organisations across the world.

“We have a real opportunity here for the Yorkshire Energy Park to become a key site in these areas, which can only be positive for generations to come. It’s fantastic to have WMG’s support.”