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Gas plant opener goes to Nuttall

CONTRACTS CHESHIRE

NUTTALL has grabbed the first chunk of a £70 million deal to build a gas plant in Cheshire and is hoping to beat several firms to the remainder.

The storage and processing plant, known as the Holford Gas Storage Facility, is being built at a disused salt mine near the village of Byley. The work is being carried out for E.ON UK, the energy firm which announced last week that it will sponsor the FA Cup.

Nuttall has bagged the first phase of work at the plant, worth £25 million, and will carry out enabling works and ground removal to make way for the eight underground storage caverns.

The next contract to be dished out will be the main construction work. Amec and Costain are already prowling in the hope of poaching the deal from under Nuttall's nose.

A source at Nuttall said: 'The next contract will be out in a few weeks and we know there will be a lot of competition. We are certainly preparing to work up a bid.' Manufacturing facility investor Ineos Enterprises, which owns the land, secured planning permission for the gas works at the High Court last August after a fierce battle with local residents. It is leasing the site to E.ON UK.

Ineos Enterprises has also submitted plans to develop a smaller gas storage facility located near the Byley site at Stublach Farm. Bosses at the company are confident that proposals will be approved following recent fears in the UK's manufacturing sector that the country might be leaving itself short of gas supplies.