EDF Energy has signed a deal with British Salt to acquire a site to build a fast-cycle underground gas storage facility in Cheshire.
It will be adjacent to EDF Trading’s existing facility at Hole House Farm, Middlewich.
The deal, which is set to provide a major boost to the local construction and engineering sector once work gets under way, provides further stability for British Salt’s production plant, which employs 125 people.
The storage facility is composed of 10 pre-existing cavities formed in the rock-salt deposits some 200m beneath the ground. The cavities are currently full of brine, which will be displaced by gas and used by British Salt as feedstock for its salt production process.
When fully operation in 2016, EDF Energy’s fast-cycle gas storage facility will have a total storage capacity of 36m therms.
British Salt, which is backed by private-equity company LDC, secured planning permission for the scheme in 2008, with an amended planning permission being granted to the project in March 2009.
Rob Jones, British Salt's chief executive, said: 'We started developing cavities specifically for gas storage in the mid-1990s, working in partnership with EDF Trading. This scheme is a continuation of that initial project.'