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Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen has used his first official business visit to highlight the importance of the River Tees, and Teesport in particular, to the local economy.

Mr Houchen visited the PD Ports facilities at Teesport, which supports 3,500 jobs directly and in its supply chain, and took a boat tour of the facilities and surrounding areas of economic interest.

Teesport is one of the UK’s most important sea ports, servicing more than 5,000 vessels each year and processing in excess of 40 million tons of cargo. The area has seen investment in growing industries, potash from Sirius Minerals’ new mine in North Yorkshire will be shipped from Redcar and Able UK has begun the decommissioning of the Brent Delta oil platform on the north bank of the river.

Mr Houchen said: “The River Tees is the economic artery of our area. The facilities at Teesport connect our industries to the world, which was important before the Brexit decision and invaluable now. The importance of the river goes back throughout Teesside’s history, from the first port at Yarm, through the Industrial Revolution and the growth industries of the 21stCentury.

“As the largest deep water port on the east coast and one of the deepest ports in the whole of the UK it is not just important to jobs in Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool, but to the whole of the country. This means we have a fantastic opportunity, not just to bring inward investment to the area, but also to create more good jobs by bolstering our export sector.

“I have enjoyed my visit to the facilities at PD Ports and look forward to working with the team to support the growth of Tees Valley.”