Able UK

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Able UK
Industry Industrial services, shipbreaking, recycling, port operations

Able UK is a British industrial services company specialising in decommissioning of ships and offshore installations.


Able UK is a British industrial services company, operating primarily in the marine decommissioning and recycling business. As of 2014 the company has a specialised dry dock with associated decommissioning facilities including landfill at Seaton (TERRC, Teesside Environmental Reclamation & Recycling Centre)[note 1] with a 120 metres (390 ft) entrance width capable of handling offshore oil equipment including steel jackets of fixed platforms, heavy-lift ship, and other large ships including aircraft carrier sized vessels. The company also undertakes general demolition work.[1]

In addition to the dock facility at Seaton,[map 1] Able UK also has (as of 2014) sites with port facilities at or near Billingham (Billingham Reach,[note 2] quay and industrial estate);[map 2] Port Clarence (Clarence Port, River Tees bankside development land);[map 3] and at Middlesbrough (Middlesbrough Port, River Tees quayside north with fabrication facilities;[map 4] also at the former South Tees Recycling Centre.[map 5]).[2]

The company has non-port sites at or near (as of 2014): Barnby Dun (the former Thorpe Marsh Power Station);[map 6] and at Seaton (Seaton Meadows landfill site).[map 7]

As of 2014 Able UK is also promoting and planning two sites in the north of Lincolnshire, near the banks of the Humber estuary. The "ABLE Humber Port" consists of "ABLE Logistics Park" is a logistic park of nearly 500 hectares (1,200 acres),[map 8] with an adjacent port development "ABLE Marine Energy Park" of over 360 hectares (890 acres) with nearly 1,400 metres (4,600 ft) of quay on the banks of the Humber estuary.[map 9][2] ABLE Logistics Park received planning permission in 2013.[3] ABLE Marine Energy Park received local planning permission in 2013,[4] and sought a Development Consent Order in 2014;[5] a planning decision was delayed due to objections from ABP, which were judicially rejected in 2015.[6]


Able UK was founded in 1966 by Peter Stephenson.[7]

In 1995 Able acquired the land of the closed Thorpe Marsh Power Station.[8] In 1996 Able acquired the dock at Graythorp, renaming it the TERRC (Teesside Environmental Reclamation and Recycling Centre) together with the nearby Seaton Meadows landfill site.[9]

In 2000 Able acquired a fabrication facility in Middlesbrough (formerly Davy Offshore Modules, later SLP Engineering, and Odebrecht.) renaming it ABLE Middlesbrough Port.[10]

'Ghost Ships' at ABLE's recycling dry dock (2004)

In 2003 the TERRC facility became the subject of controversy when Able obtained a £11 million contract from the US Marine Administration to dismantle 13 former US navy ships (known as the Ghost Ships). Due to the presence of asbestos and polychlorinated biphenyls in the ships the action was opposed by some Hartlepool residents and environmental groups.[9][11]

Able acquired a license to carry out the work from the Environment Agency in 2008.[12][13] The delays caused by the objections to the process caused Able the loss of the US contract for 9 of the 13 ships.[note 3] In 2007 Able was fined £20,000 for failing to follow proper procedures when disposing of asbestos.[14] By 2009 the four US ships had been received at the site together with the former French aircraft carrier Clemenceau were sealed inside the dry dock, which was drained, and the ships scrapped.[9] Other constructions decommissioned at the same time included the former jacket of an installation from the North West Hutton Oilfield.[15] Dismantling work was completed in 2011.[16]

The TERRC site was again the subject of a planning conflict in 2012 when Hartlepool Borough Council rejected a planning submission (to extend the height Seaton Meadows landfill) made in an attempt to prevent spontaneous combustion of refuse which had been occurring.[17][18][19]

In the 2009/2010 Able published plans for a sites on the south Humber estuary bank to provide a large logistics facility and facilities for wind farm equipment manufacture and installation;[20][21] The Able Logistics Park received planning permission in 2013,[3] The £450 million estuary side port development Able Marine Energy Park (AMEP) received planning consent in December 2013, after having been delayed due to concerns over wildlife impact.[21][22][4][note 4]

In 2014 proceedings for a Development Consent Order[note 5] for the AMEP plan were begun.[5] Associated British Ports (ABP) submitted two petitions: an objection and an alternative petition for amendment, both based on objections to compulsory purchase of land it had recently announced the intention to develop for a hydrocarbon importation facility, the Immingham Western Deepwater Jetty (IWDJ).[24][25] ABP was subsequently accused of filing wrecking amendments at the initial hearings.[26] ABP sought a modification of the plans, shortening the AMEP quay by 515 metres (1,690 ft).[27] At hearings in April 2014 ABP's petitions of objections were found to be valid, requiring the development case to be heard by a committee of MPs.[28] By July 2014 other issues with the plan had been withdrawn, with the ABP petitions to be heard at an inquiry in October.[29] In August 2014 work began on a £60 million environmental remediation scheme for AMEP to create an alternative wading bird habitats on the banks of the Humber,[30] enabling works began for the AMEP development in the same month, with £15 million funding coming from a government grant.[31] In October 2014 the parliamentary committee rejected ABP's petitions,[32] and in February 2015 ABP ended its legal opposition to the plans following rejection of a judicial review of the planning decision.[6]

In mid 2015 Dong Energy agreed a MOU with ABLE over the construction of an offshore wind operations base at the planned ABLE Marine Energy Park;[33] however in mid 2016 Dong withdrew from plans to use the site as an operations hub, following an internal review that concluded the site would not be operation in time for its UK east coast wind farm plans.[34]


  1. ^ Associate company ALAB Environmental Services Ltd. operates the nearby Seaton Meadows Landfill site.
  2. ^ Site of the former North Tees Power Station.
  3. ^ After the loss of the contract for 9 of the 13 ships, the 4 remaining ships to be processed were : USS Canopus (AS-34), USS Compass Island (AG-153), USS Canisteo (AO-99), and USS Caloosahatchee (AO-98).[9]
  4. ^ Part of the site, 111 hectares (270 acres) had already been developed by Able as a vehicle storage area in 2000.[7]
  5. ^ A Development Consent Order was required by the UK government for any "Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project" (NSIP), and once given, allowed compulsory purchase of land.[23]


  1. ^ "Operations",, retrieved 26 August 2014 
  2. ^ a b "Sites",, retrieved 23 August 2014 
  3. ^ a b (PA/2009/0600) Planning permission to erect buildings and use land for purposes within Use Classes A3, C1, B1, B2 and B8 for port-related storage and associated service facilities together with amenity landscaping and habitat creation, including flood defences, new railway siding, estate roads, sewage and drainage facilities, floodlighting, waste processing facility, hydrogen pipeline spur and two 20 metre telecommunication masts (planning application), North East Lincolnshire Council, 10 July 2013 
  4. ^ a b McLauchlan, Karen (19 December 2013), "Able UK gets green light for £450m Humber project", 
  5. ^ a b "Able Marine Energy Park Development Consent Order 2014", / 
  6. ^ a b Laister, David (9 February 2015), "ABP drops challenge in battle to block £450m Able Marine Energy Park", Grimsby Telegraph 
  7. ^ a b "More than able",, 28 September 2012 
  8. ^ "Doncaster power station tower demolished by Able UK",, 17 April 2012 
  9. ^ a b c d "Able UK's TERRC yard on Teesside", BBC Tees, 23 November 2010 
  10. ^ "Oil & Gas Case Studies",, ABLE MIDDLESBROUGH PORT, MIDDLESBROUGH, retrieved 26 August 2014 
  11. ^ SUPPLEMENTARY MEMORANDUM FROM THE ENVIRONMENT AGENCY FOLLOWING HEARING ON 19 NOVEMBER 2003, Select Committee on Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, 2003 
  12. ^ Tighe, Chris (27 June 2008), "Battle won for Hartlepool ship breaking yard", FT 
  13. ^ "Ship breakers win permission to dismantle French aircraft carrier", The Guardian, 2 July 2008 
  14. ^ "Toxic fine for 'ghost ships' firm", BBC News, 13 November 2007 
  15. ^ "Teesside recycling centre on crest of a wave",, 19 May 2009 
  16. ^ "Ghost ships work completed", Hartlepool Mail, 21 January 2011 
  17. ^ "Landfill blaze 'spontaneous combustion'", Hartlepool Mail, 3 April 2008 
  18. ^ "Plans thrown out for landfill site", Hartlepool Mail, 19 July 2012 
  19. ^ "Anger over bid to expand landfill site in Seaton Carew", Hartlepool Mail, 18 September 2013 
  20. ^ "Project 'will create 5,000 jobs'", BBC News, 3 June 2009 
  21. ^ a b "Plans for £400m Humber wind farm port unveiled", BBC News Humberside, 8 July 2010 
  22. ^ "Humber £450m marine energy park decision suffers new delay", BBC News Humberside, 28 August 2013 
  23. ^ Drafting Development Consent Orders (PDF), The Planning Inspectorate, Oct 2014 
  24. ^ "Petitions against the Able Marine Energy Park Development Consent Order 2014", 
  25. ^ Coldwell, Jim (23 January 2014), "ABP jetty plan casts doubt over £450m Humber Able Marine Energy Park", Hull Daily Mail 
  26. ^ Laister, David (8 April 2014), "ABP accused of filing "wrecking amendments" - released documents from latest AMEP hearing reveal", Grimsby Telegraph 
  27. ^ Coldwell, Jim (31 January 2014), "Humber marine park row: Able UK labels ABP claims 'misleading'", Hull Daily Mail 
  28. ^ Laister, David (3 April 2014), "UPDATED: Further delay as Able Marine Energy Park dispute now to be heard by Westminster committee", Grimsby Telegraph 
  29. ^ Kishtwari, Soraya (16 July 2014), "Frustration over further delays to Able Marine Energy Park plan", Grimsby Telegraph 
  30. ^ Whitehead, Harriet (15 August 2014), "£60-million bill to relocate birds from Able energy park site", Scunthorpe Telegraph 
  31. ^ Laister, David (1 August 2014), "£15m enabling grant welcomed as Able UK holds firm on ABP land deal at Humber marine park", Grimsby Telegraph 
  32. ^ "Humber Estuary port development backed by MPs", BBC News - Humberside, 23 October 2014 
  33. ^ "Dong plans Able offshore hub",, 9 July 2015 
  34. ^ "Dong spikes Able offshore hub",, 9 Aug 2016 


Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

  • "Able UK", , official website