PLANS for a "major" new green energy hub in Harwich have been given the go ahead in what has been described as a "hugely important step" forward for the development.

Tendring Council’s (TDC) Planning Committee has approved Harwich International Port's plans for Bathside Bay Container Terminal (BBCT) platform to be used as a green energy hub for a temporary period of 15 years.

This follows the approval of proposals in March for a new estuarine habitat in Little Oakley - designed to compensate for the impact on wildlife at Bathside Bay.

The hub, which will be situated in Harwich International Port, is designed to increase the port’s capabilities to accommodate the rapidly growing offshore energy sector.

It will include wind turbine storage, assembly, and servicing to enable “a beneficial use of the terminal development” during the terminal’s temporary period, before full capacity is required, which is projected between 2034 and 2042.

Harwich and Manningtree Standard: Decarbonisation - Freeport East's offshore wind development is part of their green energy focusDecarbonisation - Freeport East's offshore wind development is part of their green energy focus (Image: Freeport East)

Freeport East - one of 12 economic growth areas in the UK - also aims to meet the government's ambitions of installing 50 giga-watts of offshore wind generating capacity by 2030.

The committee heard the proposal will also contribute to the advancement of Freeport East, one of 12 economic growth areas in the UK which aims to install 50 giga-watts of offshore wind generating capacity by 2030.

Ivan Henderson, TDC councillor responsible for economic growth, regeneration and tourism, welcomed the committee’s unanimous decision.

He said: “This decision is a hugely important step for the long-awaited development of Bathside Bay, to realise the potential of Freeport East".

“It shows Tendring Council helping to turn Freeport East into a reality, with the potential to bring jobs and skills opportunities and raising aspirations for our residents.”

Mr Henderson said the green energy hub could further be supported by a separate new £10million innovation hub, for which a report by Essex University last year said Harwich would be a prime location.

The hub would bring together a cluster of businesses and organisations in a new dedicated building, helping the town to become a national leader in clean energy.

Steve Beel, chief executive of Freeport East, said: “With planning secured, Bathside Bay stands out as one of the few projects ready to support offshore wind development.

“Its strategic location offers significant advantages for large-scale manufacturing and assembly of offshore wind turbines.

“Its ample quay length, water depth, and available land also make it uniquely placed to serve both UK and European offshore wind farms, contributing to a cleaner energy future.”

Hutchison Ports – which runs Harwich International Port – was given permission in 1997 to reclaim land in the estuary and operate a 122-hectare container terminal facility at Bathside Bay.