A £500m investment by a Chinese engineering giant is to pave the way for a new gas-fired power station at Thornton and the creation of almost 1,000 jobs.
Wyre Power Ltd, part of the NPL Group, have announced the signing of an agreement with China Machinery Engineering Corporation (CMEC) at a high level agreement in the House of Commons.
With the prospect of 600 jobs in construction alone, along with several hundred longer-term operational jobs, the news has been hailed as a vital employment boost for the whole of the Fylde coast.
The project will now move into a design development phase before the first round of public consultation to be undertaken in the New Year.
The “collaboration agreement” paves the way for Wyre Power to push forward plans for the power station on the Hillhouse Enterprise Zone.
The 900 MW plant would be sufficient to power one million homes and is expected to be operational by 2022, with work now commenced on the Development Consent Order.
It comes after two years of negotiations betweeen NPL and the Chinese, and the process has also involved Paul Maynard, the MP for Blackpool North and Cleveleys, Wyre Council, the UK Department for International Trade and the UK Chinese Embassy.
Mr Maynard, who hosted the signing event in the House of Commons, commented: “I was delighted to have played a part in this important signing ceremony of a £500m investment into skilled quality jobs in our local area, and it was an honour to play host to it in Parliament.”
Group chairman and chief executive officer of the NPL Group, Robert McFarlane, described the signing as “ground-breaking for Wyre” and the culmination of intensive work by all parties over the past two years.
He said the project formed the start of what all parties hope will be fruitful partnership with this Chinese giant across the UK.