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Last Updated: Thursday, 25 October 2007, 18:11 GMT 19:11 UK
'Ghost ship' scrap plans approved
US ghost fleet
Four of the ships have been moored in Hartlepool since 2003
Plans to scrap so-called US "ghost ships" on Teesside have finally been approved - four years after the first vessel arrived.

In 2003, Hartlepool-based Able UK won a contract with the US Government to dismantle up to 13 vessels.

Four ships arrived later that year, but planning and environmental delays prevented any work taking place.

On Thursday, Hartlepool Council gave conditional approval to revised planning applications from the firm.

Able UK denied claims the vessels were an environmental danger and could leak toxic waste into the area around the company's Graythorp facility, which is rich in wildlife.

Strict monitoring

But opposition from environmentalists prompted Hartlepool Council to refuse planning permission.

But the firm launched an appeal and a public inquiry into the plans is ongoing.

However, after Hartlepool Council admitted that fresh government policy meant it could no longer block planning permission, the applications were resubmitted.

Now, the authority has approved the plans, but have insisted on a strict monitoring regime.

The company will also have to obtain additional licences from the Environment Agency and Defra.

Welcoming the decision, Able UK chief executive Peter Stephenson said: "In many respects today is a cause for celebration, because it means that at last we can move ahead with our plans to clinch major construction contracts which can bring around 1,500 jobs to the area over the next two years.

"At the same time I feel a huge sense of regret that this project has been delayed for so long."

SEE ALSO
Q&A: Ghost ships
07 Jan 04 |  England

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