Government Minister Andrew Percy MP heralded investment and collaboration in the Northern Powerhouse as he officially opened Peel Environmental’s £700m flagship energy destination, Protos. Cutting the ribbon on the 134-acre strategic development site near Ellesmere Port, Cheshire, he recognised Protos as being at the heart of the north’s emerging industrial strategy.
Protos is the only energy-focused development in the Government’s recently-unveiled Northern Powerhouse Investment Opportunities Portfolio, which will attract £5 billon of investment across 13 projects. Focused on energy, industry and innovation, the site is set to become a magnet for international investment. With Phase One infrastructure completed; a 21.5MW biomass facility in construction; a 19-turbine wind farm in operation and with plots ‘shovel-ready’ for development - Protos is open for business.
Mr Percy praised the £170 million investment already secured in the site and championed a further £500 million planned to commence in 2017 and be delivered over the next three to four years. He also welcomed the site’s wider long-term potential to bring £1.5 billion of investment and 13,000 jobs to the region.
Peel’s approach to partnership was also highlighted, with links to educational institutions helping maximise opportunities to nurture and retain skilled workers and innovative start-ups in the north.
Andrew Percy MP, Minister for the Northern Powerhouse, said:
“The energy sector is pivotal to our Industrial Strategy, ensuring the country has the infrastructure it needs to support economic growth long into the future.
“So I’m delighted to launch the new Protos Energy Hub, right at the heart of the Northern Powerhouse, which will help create skilled jobs and attract significant investment for the region.”
A hundred invited guests joined the Protos team at the University of Chester’s neighbouring Thornton Science Park, where they heard how the site will provide a direct source of energy to existing and new industries in the surrounding area. Attendees also heard how this collaborative approach will underpin the success of the Cheshire Science Corridor Enterprise Zone, which provides financial incentives to occupiers and is set to create 20,000 jobs.
Demonstrating the Northern Powerhouse in action, Protos also embodies the Government’s latest policy to create a cohesive industrial strategy to develop futureproof industries and technologies to compete on a global scale. The destination will provide a supportive environment in a prime location where new concepts can be taken from inception to development; demonstration and large-scale delivery.
Myles Kitcher, Managing Director at 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.”
During the visit, Mr Percy was given a tour of the 134-acre site which included the biomass facility currently under construction and the University of Chester’s Thornton Science Park, which provides important links to a future skilled workforce in partnership with sector specific businesses located on campus. Mr Percy also gave a keynote speech on the importance of Protos to the Northern Powerhouse and the economic significance of the Northern Powerhouse to the UK as a whole.
Robert Mee, a speaker at the event and Chair of the Cheshire Science Corridor Enterprise Zone, welcomed reaffirmed confidence in the Northern Powerhouse and priority sectors such as science and innovation:
“The Cheshire Science Corridor Enterprise Zone will be instrumental in making Cheshire and Warrington the best place in the country for science and innovation. Protos plays a key part in the Enterprise Zone portfolio, already drawing international investment and providing flexible space where innovative ideas can be deployed on a large scale.
“With renewed vigour in the Northern Powerhouse and a focus on innovation and science as part of the Industrial Strategy, the region is well placed to capitalise on its unique offer and drive long-term economic growth.”
Guests included leading representatives from Cheshire West and Chester Council; the Cheshire and Warrington LEP; the Cheshire Science Corridor Enterprise Zone Board; Ellesmere Port Development Board; University of Chester; Atlantic Gateway; and Peel Ports.