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Hartlepool rejects ghost ship move

Hartlepool Council has rejected Able UKs application to extend use of its Teesside Environmental Reclamation and Recycling Centre (TERRC) to cover the construction, repair, refurbishment and decommissioning of ships and other vessels. The company has already signalled its intention to appeal.

Able UK leapt to international prominence in 2003 when it was awarded an £11m contract by the US governments Maritime Administration for the remediation and recycling of 13 redundant vessels from the US Reserve Fleet. The first four vessels from the contract have been at the TERRC since late that year.

The planning application was rejected because of concerns about the effect on the environment, tourism, peoples health and wildlife habitats.

However, the councils planning committee chairman Bill Iseley - who missed the meeting after having recently suffered a heart attack - told the local Mail newspaper that he was shocked and surprised by the decision given that every government authority has examined the process and said its quite safe. He said the company was almost certain to win its appeal.

Able UKs chairman and chief executive Peter Stephenson accused councillors of rejecting the proposal for the most spurious of reasons - many based on blatant misinterpretation and misinformation.

Delays had already meant the loss of around £70 million in wages to local people and £80 million of business for local suppliers, as well as £100 million worth of scrap steel which could have been recovered.

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