Hillhouse International Enterprise Zone attracts Chinese investment

A Chinese delegation has visited Hillhouse International Enterprise Zone (EZ) in Thornton Cleveleys in a bid to create a power station that could bring £800m investment to the site.

Representatives from two Chinese power corporations also met Government officials to discuss the proposal, which is one of the first major developments since EZ status was attained.

Wyre Power is a wholly owned subsidiary of the NPL Group which is promoting and developing a large gas fired power station at Hillhouse, also owned by NPL Group, within the Northern Powerhouse region.

This national infrastructure project will produce up to 900MW of electricity sufficient to power some 750,000 homes and could create over 1,000 jobs in construction and associated industries. It will be located adjacent to key National Grid infrastructure at the site.

Robert McFarlane, chairman of NPL Group, was therefore delighted to invite the vice presidents and senior teams from China Power Engineering Consulting Group Corporation Ltd (CPECC) and China National Electric Engineering Co Ltd (CNEEC) on a tour of Hillhouse and the Fylde Coast last week.

He said: "I'm delighted we are working towards reaching an agreement with China Power (CPECC) and CNEEC which we all hope will bring significant inward investment to the area. Our visitors were delighted with the partnership approach between NPL and Wyre Council and how this is already transforming the Hillhouse site."

The visit was well received and culminated in a lunch hosted by Wyre Council at the Civic Centre in Poulton.

Councillor Peter Murphy, economy portfolio holder at Wyre Council, said: "These are fantastic first steps for Hillhouse International Enterprise Zone and if all goes to plan, the power station will become a major contributor to Britain's energy consumption and create many jobs in the area. The investment will also attract companies in associated industries to the site and make it a roaring success."

Xue Danfeng, vice president of China Power Engineering Consulting Group Corporation Ltd (CPECC), said: "This is our first time in the UK and our first chance to get to know the UK energy market. I would like to thank the Government officials and all those who have welcomed us. This is a good sign for us because Government support gives us the confidence to invest in the UK.

"Our new leader, President Xi Jinping, has announced a new policy regarding China's ‘One Belt, One Road’ project and we need to follow this policy. Therefore we wish to step out from China and invest in the UK power market.

"From a planning and management point of view Hillhouse is a very high standard business park. We notice many companies already joining and recognise the potential for development. Local government support encourages our investment interest for this area.

"China National Electric Engineering Company (CNEEC) is another state-owned company in China and we have been partners for many years. We have our advantages and cooperation makes us stronger."

The development will be delivered under the government’s Development Consent Order (DCO) process and the Wyre Power team is working towards a submission in summer 2017 with public consultations taking place in the new year. Hillhouse is one of four enterprise zones in Lancashire along with Samlesbury, Warton and Blackpool Airport, which combine to provide a world class offer to investors and occupiers in the advanced manufacturing, energy and engineering sectors.