CAMMELL Laird is lining itself up to grasp the “stellar opportunities” in the multi-billion nuclear industry, chief executive John Syvret has revealed.

The Birkenhead-based shipyard and engineering services company is ramping up its activity in the energy sector by investing more than £1.5m in its facilities and appointing a leading nuclear sector engineer.

John Eldridge, one of the most experienced figures in the UK nuclear industry, has joined Laird from Sellafield Ltd which operates the nuclear reprocessing plant in West Cumbria.

He has a track record of more than 40 years working on the design, construction, commissioning and operation of nuclear facilities.

Mr Syvret said: “We believe the nuclear sector can provide job and wealth creation at Cammell Laird for the benefit of Wirral, Merseyside and the wider Northwest.

"We are already working with Liverpool and John Moores universities looking at developing the skills that will be needed to grasp the stellar opportunities in this multi-billion pound industry."

He said the company was now making "serious progress" in its campaign to position itself as one of the prime locations in Britain for the manufacture of modules for the multi-billion pound new-build and decommissioning programmes.

The yard confirmed operations would not involve the use of nuclear material at the complex. A spokesman said: “Definitely no nuclear material will be coming to Cammell Laird.”

Mr Syvret added. “John’s knowledge will help us forge closer links with the nuclear industry enabling us to present innovative solutions to complex engineering challenges.

“We have spent more than £1.5m in renovating one of the large workshops near the construction hall.

"The refurbishment has seen six cranes overhauled and a new roof, floor, electrics and lighting installed. It will provide a world-class facility to test and assemble modules and rigs for our nuclear clients.”

Mr Eldridge said: "The changes in the nuclear industry are helping to trigger a renaissance in British engineering and manufacturing.

"Cammell Laird has always been at the forefront of innovation and our aim is to take that ethos into nuclear. It is fantastic that we can do that here on Merseyside in the UK rather than farm work out overseas.”

Mr Eldridge said a crucial element, recognised by Cammell Laird and all in the nuclear sector, was the urgent need to train and provide experience for the young engineers who would drive the programmes forward.

An informal programme of secondment opportunities has already started across the sector, which sees graduate engineers work on eight-month placements in Birkenhead