Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne saw first hand the latest technology being used to clean up Britain’s nuclear legacy linked to an under-construction £500m plant.
Mr Osborne, MP for Tatton, joined by Chester MP Stephen Mosley, dropped into Capenhurst Nuclear Services on a visit to the North West, championing his 'northern powerhouse' vision to ensure the region gets its fair share of economic growth.
There has been criticism the UK economy is too dependent on the south east and Mr Osborne says he wants to fund the infrastructure to enable the north to prosper.
Mr Osborne said: “Stephen told me about the incredible expertise and engineering skills that we find on the Capenhurst site and the many hundreds of local jobs that depend on it.
“I guess it’s one of the great strengths of this part of Cheshire, but also of the north of England, that we have this nuclear expertise and I want to make sure that we are making best use of that in the future, both to continue to supply the civilian nuclear world but also to make sure that it is safe and what we’ve seen today is the operation to make sure that the legacy of Britain’s energy industry is made safe for future generations.”
Mr Osborne was shown a 'hot tap' developed to decant depleted uranium from aging cylinders into new containers to be processed at an adjacent £500m plant that, when complete, will turn the material into a more stable and safer powder.
CNS has also cleaned up areas of land that could be used to store radioactive waste from nuclear-powered submarines if it wins the contract.
Talking about his 'northern powerhouse' vision, Mr Osborne said: “I want to make sure that as we go forward we maximise the strength of the northern economy. That means infrastructure investment in our railways and our roads so we bring our northern cities closer together but it also means investing in science.”
He added: “I know how important it is that places like Chester are part of that investment. You are seeing it with the road improvements. I think next week the improvements on the A55 junction with the 483 are getting under way. We have been talking about that for years. Now people can see the practical benefits of this government fixing the economy.”
And the Chancellor said city MP Mr Mosley’s dream of getting the railway line electrified from Chester to Crewe was “a real possibility.”
Asked about the Scottish independence question, Mr Osborne said: “We want Scotland to be part of our United Kingdom, part of our family of nations.”
He added that there was “a strong case for making sure, that particularly our cities, get more powers, that we look at the case for strong elected mayors”.
Mr Mosley said afterwards it was “great” to show the Chancellor the investment at Capenhurst, currently employing about 800 workers on site.