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Titanic shipyard goes green

Friday, Apr 20, 2012 - 02:36

The Belfast port where Titanic was built is once again a hive of activity as Belfast Harbour and Harland and Wolff look to create a new green energy hub. Matt Cowan reports.

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++ THIS STORY IS BEING RESENT WITH CORRECTED AUDIO. PLEASE REPLACE EARLIER VERSION SENT YESTERDAY WITH THE SAME NUMBER ++ The Belfast port where Titanic was built is in the midst of a major upheaval. In what is described as the largest project in the port's 400 year history, Belfast Harbour Commission is investing 50 million pounds or roughly 80 million dollars - to kickstart what it hopes will become a new green energy hub. Len O'Hagan is the chairman of Belfast Harbour. SOUNDBITE: Len O'Hagan, Belfast Harbour Chairman saying (English): "This is an entirely new area for us, and this is the start of a whole series of investments that will bring green energy jobs to Belfast." The 50 acre terminal currently being built here will be used to support the construction of a massive new wind farm in the Irish Sea. Once its complete, the Belfast facility will be leased to Denmark's DONG energy, creating in the region of 200 local jobs. SOUNDBITE: Len O'Hagan, Belfast Harbour Chairman saying (English): "and that will be in high grade engineering jobs which is building on the engineering expertise that Belfast has which was applied to building ships and now it's applied to the green technical area." In fact, Harland and Wolff - the 150 year old company that built Titanic, has helped to lead the way. At its height, the shipyard employed around 10 thousand people. Five years ago, that number dwindled to fewer than 100 but the focus on green tech means the company is back hiring again. It currently employs around 700 people. David McVeigh is Harland and Wolff's Sales and Marketing manager. SOUNDBITE: David McVeigh, Sales and Marketing manager saying (English) "Since about the 1960s oil and gas has been a major player for Harland and Wolff but since 2004 we've moved into the renewable energy sector. Offshore, obviously. And what we found was a great correlation between the experience we had from the oil and gas industry and we applied that to the renewables industry." O'Hagan says Belfast Harbour's investment in 21st century technologies echoes a bet made on the same spot many years ago. SOUNDBITE: Len O'Hagan, Belfast Harbour Chairman saying (English): "Shipbuilding really shouldn't be happening in this country. It really doesn't have the raw materials to do it but 100 years ago Belfast Harbour Commission started to dredge a muddy river and everything you see here is a result of dredging the old Lagan and we invested in the infrastructure for shipbuilding and we invested in the Thomson Dock which was specially for the Olympia Line ships and Titanic came along." As Belfast looks to revive its international appeal with a new landmark building dedicated to all things Titanic, its industrial future looks to be set in a new, more imaginative, direction. Matt Cowan, Reuters

Titanic shipyard goes green

Friday, Apr 20, 2012 - 02:36

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