Spencer Group has given VIP visitors special access to two of Hull’s most significant developments – the pioneering Ron Dearing University Technical College (UTC) and the Energy Works power plant.
The high-profile group was given a personal tour of the £10m UTC building, which is nearing completion, by Principal Sarah Pashley and Chair of Trustees, Charlie Spencer OBE, Executive Chairman of Spencer Group, one of the UTC’s Founding Partner employers.
The visit was combined with a tour of the huge Energy Works green energy facility, which has been developed by Spencer Group and is being delivered by principal contractor M+W Group.
The VIP group included Alan Johnson, the former Hull West and Hessle MP, who championed the cause of establishing Hull’s first UTC; Lord Haskins, Humber Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) Chair; Finbarr Dowling, former Hull Project Director for another UTC Founding Partner, Siemens; Paul Sewell OBE, Executive Chair of Sewell Group, whose construction arm is delivering the new school; and Councillor Julia Conner, a member of Hull City Council’s Planning Committee, which approved both schemes.
The visitors were given an exclusive insight into the UTC’s state-of-the-art learning spaces and facilities, including dedicated zones for digital technology, design, project development and testing.
Mrs Pashley and Mr Spencer also explained how the school, its facilities and curriculum had been specifically designed with the UTC’s employer partners to support the development of tech-savvy young people with the skills and qualifications leading local businesses need to drive forward the region’s economy.
Mr Johnson, a former Education Secretary, said the exciting vision for Hull’s first employer-led school was now becoming reality.
He said: “The vision for the UTC is perfect for Hull, but having the vision and putting it into effect are different things entirely.
“The leadership shown by Sarah and the way that so many businesses have come together to support the school is why I believe this won’t just be a great UTC, but a role model for the rest of the country.”
Lord Haskins paid tribute to the deep commitment to the UTC from its business backers.
He said: “I’m very impressed by what I’ve seen but, at the same time, it’s typical of what’s happening in Hull at the present time. It’s a wonderful story.
“This UTC adds a new dimension to the region’s skills agenda. The key thing is the business support the UTC has got. One of the main challenges of the skills agenda generally is getting businesses involved, but the UTC has certainly got business behind it and that’s a great thing to build on.”
The group then moved on to see the vast Energy Works power plant which is being built on the east bank of the river Hull.
The £200m Energy Works scheme is one of the UK’s most innovative green energy facilities and the Humber region’s largest current development. Spencer Group has steered Energy Works from concept to delivery and the company is now playing a key part in its construction.
Lord Haskins said the development was “extremely impressive” and added: “As one of the Humber LEP’s priority sectors, renewable energy in the Humber is fast becoming one of the region’s most important industries.
“Energy Works is a perfect example of our ambition to prolong the Humber’s reputation as the UK’s Energy Estuary for years to come.”
Mr Dowling, who led the team that established world-class and world-scale wind power manufacturing, assembly and logistics operations in Hull, before moving to a new role as Operations Director for Siemens Rolling Stock, was impressed with the scale and ambition of Energy Works.
He said: “This is a very challenging engineering project on several levels – from the civils work through to the mechanical, the team have had to be highly innovative.
“There has been a very significant investment in capital equipment, including Siemens’ transformers and gas turbine, while the process itself – converting waste into green energy – is fascinating and quite complex.
“The teamwork and passion shown by M&W and Spencer Group was very evident. I was also impressed by the way the developers have involved the community from the outset and have programmes in place to ensure that relationship remains positive once the plant is operational.”
Energy Works is due to begin generating electricity in April next year, using an innovative gasification process to produce sufficient energy to power 43,000 homes by processing 250,000 tonnes of refuse-derived fuel (RDF) annually.