THE 'conflict of interest' accused company which owns what has been described as a £1 billion marine industrial asset in Inchgreen Dry Dock has refused reveal what action it has taken over the last 20 years to revitalise the dormant facility.

Clydeport - controlled since 2003 by Peel Ports, which has similar infrastructure on Merseyside - snubbed a series of questions from the Telegraph following stinging political criticism of its operations.

Meanwhile, Clydeport chief Jim McSporran has highlighted £25m of investment in freight cranes in Greenock - which have nothing to do with Inchgreen - whilst Scotland's biggest dry dock remains empty and unused.

The company ignored questions as to how many parties had expressed an interest in the dry dock since 2003, the nature of their business, and what Clydeport had done to actively market the dry dock over the years.

Labour MSP Paul Sweeney, in an exclusive interview with the Telegraph, claimed a 'clear winner' had been picked between Peel Ports' competing harbour locations in Greenock and Liverpool.

Greenock Telegraph: Paul Sweeney MSP worked with BAE Systems in Govan and Scotstoun before turning to HolyroodPaul Sweeney MSP worked with BAE Systems in Govan and Scotstoun before turning to Holyrood (Image: Colin Mearns)

The Glasgow politician, who has a background in the shipbuilding industry, called out the 'great tragedy' of the decline of the Clyde's commercial activities as a result of the 'dereliction of duty' in privatising the ports, and insisted Greenock 'should not be playing second fiddle to anyone'.

Asked about Mr Sweeney's comments, which included his claim that it is 'bizarre' to see the under-utilisation of Inchgreen, Mr McSporran said the Peel had invested millions in its operations on the west coast and provided hundreds of jobs, as well as being instrumental in the developing Inchgreen Marine Park - which significantly does not include the dry dock.

Mr McSporran said: “We remain fully committed to bringing Inchgreen Marine Park back to full industrial use.

Greenock Telegraph: Inchgreen is on the market for leaseInchgreen is on the market for lease (Image: Peel Ports)

"We have continued to invest millions of pounds into the facility in partnership with Inverclyde Council as part of an ongoing redevelopment that will attract new tenants and create new jobs in the coming years."

In a letter to the Tele's postbag last month, Robert Buirds - secretary of the Campaign to Save Inchgreen Dry Dock - stated 'failure is not an option' and claimed Inverclyde Council's 'reputation is on the line' if the promises are not delivered.

A separate submission from local authority leader, Stephen McCabe, said the task of attracting investment and jobs to Inchgreen 'isn’t being helped by the ongoing attacks' on Peel and the council.

Cllr McCabe previously said work is ongoing to 'realise the potential of Inchgreen', adding there is 'considerable interest' from companies in the business park and in utilising the adjacent marine assets.

The council leader previously told Telegraph readers that 'initial works to create the new Inchgreen Marine Park are ongoing and are due to be completed by late February 2024'.

The business case, supported by the City Deal, aims to 'deliver a site for multiple users with an emphasis on marine engineering or marine-related activities'.

However, neither Mr McCabe, Inverclyde Council, or Peel Ports have gone on record revealing further details - citing 'commercial confidentiality' when pressed on future plans.

READ MORE'Dereliction of duty over £1 BILLION Greenock sleeping giant that is bizarrely empty'

The latest update on the near £10m project, provided to the Glasgow City Region cabinet in November, confirmed 'positive discussions' with 'three potential end users'.

A report for the meeting said: "Scope of the project is on track to be achieved."

Greenock Telegraph: Jim McSporran is ports director at Clydeport Peel PortsJim McSporran is ports director at Clydeport Peel Ports

Mr McSporran said: “We aren’t going to comment on commercially sensitive information but have been clear our doors are always open, and always have been, to any company with a serious, credible and viable proposal to bring this national asset back to life."

Greenock Telegraph: Work is ongoing to redevelop the wider Inchgreen siteWork is ongoing to redevelop the wider Inchgreen site (Image: George Munro)

The only company to have signed a lease for the dry dock, ship scrappage outfit Atlas, failed spectacularly after promising 100 skilled jobs and being hailed as a 'terrific shot in the arm for the Inverclyde economy' by Mr McCabe.

MSP Mr Sweeney dismissed the notion of Inchgreen becoming a scrapyard for old ships, having stated he 'wasn't particularly impressed' by what he felt was a 'weak proposal' from the dry dock's most recent leaseholders.

He said growing continental demand for cruise ship refit work offers an opportunity for the £1 billion 'sleeping giant' at Inchgreen to capitalise on the tourist trade already coming to the area.

Mr Sweeney added: "We've got all these ships coming into Greenock, so why not try and get some repair industry out of it?

"It's just bizarre for me to see this asset not being used well.

"We shouldn't settle for just having the tourism, we should be developing an industrial base out of it as well and there are huge potential spin-offs from that."