A LONG-TERM deal has been signed that will create around 100 jobs in Inverclyde and see the giant Inchgreen Dry Dock become an export hub for the responsible decommissioning of global shipping fleets.

The facility was the subject of a campaign launched in 2018 to bring it back into full working life.

Now north-east England-based ATLAS Decommissioning, which specialises in the end-of-life disposal of marine infrastructure, has contracts in place with “blue chip” container lines for multiple vessels that they are removing from their current trading fleets. The firm has signed a lease on the dry dock and adjacent land, which will become an export hub for recyclable metals.

READ MORE: Campaign grows to save Greenock's Inchgreen dry dock

A waste management licence has been granted by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa).

ATLAS says the new jobs at Inchgreen will include trades and skills which exist in abundance in the local area.

Project director Mike Wood, said: “Inchgreen Dry Dock, as well as its size, also has direct access to very deep water. As a facility for the contracts we have in place I’d go as far as to say it is unique in the UK.

“There is also the attraction of the skilled workforce in Inverclyde due to its shipbuilding legacy. What we are doing here is essentially shipbuilding in reverse and requires much of the same engineering excellence and expertise.”

The dry dock is owned by Peel Ports. Director Jim McSporran said: “Inverclyde’s economic woes are well documented, with Office of National Statistics records showing an overall unemployment rate of 5.2%. We have promised to bring jobs to Inverclyde, and this is just the start.

“We are fully committed to having Inchgreen Dry Dock, which is a jewel in the crown of Scotland, back in full industrial use. That usage will pay full regard to such important issues as circularity and sustainability, as with this deal. This contract is a shining example of our stated commitment in Inverclyde and at all of our ports throughout the UK to local job creation in high unemployment areas that have a long and proud industrial history. We have been engaging closely with Inverclyde Council as we worked to secure this contract, which we believe will be a game-changer for the area and a sign of more economic benefit to come.”

Scottish Government Business Minister Ivan McKee said: “This is excellent news for the Inchgreen Dry Dock, for Inverclyde and for Scotland.

“There is no doubt the pandemic has had a significant impact on our economy and to see a company such as ATLAS Decommissioning investing in Scotland’s economy and creating new jobs is very welcome and send a strong message to other investors. The Scottish Government is firmly focused on working together with business to seize Scotland’s potential and build an economy for everyone by delivering greater, greener and fairer prosperity.”

Inverclyde Council leader Stephen McCabe added: “This is a terrific shot in the arm for the Inverclyde economy that will deliver almost 100 new, skilled jobs to the area and breathe new life into a key asset which is of local and national significance.

“This fits perfectly with our Inverclyde Works campaign to promote the area as a place to live, work and do business in and ties in with our £9.4 million regeneration plans for the wider Inchgreen area through the Glasgow Region City Deal.

“Working alongside Peel Ports Clydeport and by welcoming inward investment from companies such as ATLAS Decommissioning, we have the potential to make Inchgreen a centre of excellence for marine engineering and marine-related activity.”