TWO influential UK shipbuilding figures have revealed plans for 'substantial' investment in Inchgreen Drydock in a bid to deliver hundreds of jobs to Inverclyde.

Mark Whitworth, chief executive of site owners Peel Ports, and John Syvret, who runs the company's Cammell Laird yard in Birkenhead, outlined their plans for the future of the site during a visit to Greenock on Wednesday.

The duo accepted an invitation to the Municipal Buildings from Councillor Jim McEleny to meet with him, fellow elected members and representatives from the Campaign to Save Inchgreen group, who have thrust the future of the iconic drydock into the limelight in recent months.

They gave a detailed insight into their plans to establish the facility as the MoD's preferred location for work on the Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carriers, which Cammell Laird is involved in the construction of.

The Peel Ports boss says he wants to work closely with all parties to put Inchgreen back on the map.

Mr Whitworth told the Tele: "It was a very open, productive and positive discussion and it's clear that everyone involved wants the same thing - to see Inchgreen as a major, viable centre for ship repair in Scotland, creating jobs and economic prosperity for Inverclyde.

"We're committed to the ongoing regeneration of Inverclyde, building on the existing container services at Greenock Ocean Terminal and the massive expansion in cruise passengers coming into the port.

"Working together with the council and other local agencies, we firmly believe we have a great opportunity to bring back hundreds of skilled shipyard jobs to the area and we were extremely encouraged to see that all those at the meeting have the same ambitions."

Cammell Laird chief, Mr Syvret, insists Inchgreen is a cornerstone of his yard's bid for MoD contracts.

He said: "The investment required to bring Inchgreen up to the standard to deliver this contract would be very substantial, but we are backed by the considerable resources of the Peel Group and, if our bid is successful, we are ready to commit the necessary funds to make this project a reality.

"In addition, that would also enable us to grow our operations in Inchgreen more widely, bidding for a range of commercial ship repair contracts, not to mention our ambitions to support the Type 31 Fast Frigate programme and other commercial shipbuilding projects."

Also at the meeting were councillors Jim MacLeod, John Crowther, Chris Curley, campaigners Wilson Dunlop and Alasdair Higgins and Cammell Laird director Mike Moran.

Mr McEleny said: "We're grateful that Mark and John took the time to explain their plans in further detail to us.

"They clearly have major ambitions for Inverclyde and we at the council are committed to doing all that we can to help ensure that these vital assets are used for the benefit of the wider community."

Campaigner Mr Dunlop was also buoyed by what he heard during the discussions.

He said: "We look forward to further updates in the months ahead because it is vital that this site once again provides large numbers of skilled manufacturing jobs for local people."