A £700 million scheme for an energy hub between Chester and Ellesmere Port has been officially opened by a Government minister.
The Northern Powerhouse minister, Andrew Percy MP, visited the Thornton Science Park, on Pool Lane, Thornton-le-Moors, to officially open Peel Environment’s £700m flagship energy project Protos.
The site, which is closely linked to the University of Chester, aims to be a leader in energy production and research in the UK.
As part of the project a number of different types of energy generation projects will be built with the Frodsham Wind Farm already completed and a 21.5MW biomass facility nearly finished after a £117m boost from Peel Environment.
They plan to invest a further £500m into the site in the next four years to build an energy from waste facility and a reserve power facility which will be for gas storage.
This is expected to bring a further £1.5bn of investment – which will improve rail and port links to the site – and ultimately 13,000 jobs to the area.
Myles Kitcher, managing director of Protos, said: “Protos is a game-changer for the region and we are proud to be at the heart of energising the north’s industrial strategy.
“The minister’s recognition of the substantial committed investment and our long-term ambition for the area is a real vote of confidence in our important role in delivering the Northern Powerhouse.
“It was a pleasure to declare Protos open for business alongside the minister and our partners. As a hub for energy generators and industry, we’re already showing how Protos can be a regional and national centre of excellence that will drive growth and attract international investment.”
The Thornton site is attractive to investors in energy production as nearby industry – such as Essar Oil Refinery, Airbus and CF fertilisers – mean five per cent of the UK’s total energy consumption is in Cheshire and Warrington.
The hope is by increasing the investment into energy production in the area it will become a national hub for energy research which the University of Chester wants to take full advantage of by building their new intelligent energy demonstrator, which will help to research the next generation of energy generating techniques.
Mr Percy said: “The energy sector is pivotal to our industrial strategy, ensuring the country has the infrastructure is needs to support economic growth long into the future.
“We have announced £14m of new money to go into Cheshire and Warrington alone to support this and the wider economy. In addition to that we have billions of pounds going into the rail network across the whole of the north.
“There is a significant investment coming up here from the Government.”