UNCERTAINTY surrounds the clean-up of a former steelworks after the man leading its proposed redevelopment stopped short of confirming government support.

Lord Michael Heseltine has hinted “an uncomfortable question” over the scale of the overhaul could hold back potential multi-million improvements to Redcar’s vast SSI UK plant.

Lord Heseltine, appointed to lead the regeneration of the area, was speaking just weeks after he visited Teesside and revealed “central government will pay the clean-up costs and underwrite them.”

However, speaking to BBC One programme, Inside Out, he said the government couldn’t give a blank undertaking to meet costs.

He added: “We know £40m is on the table and a lot of work is being done (but) you are left with this uncomfortable question.

“What does the clean-up mean and until you have found out what it means you can’t be precise.”

Local MPs and residents have previously raised concerns over the state of SSI’s works, saying their decay could cause environmental damage, and The Northern Echo previously reported how estimates had put the cost of the clean-up at £600m, with nearly £1bn needed to make the area suitable for housing.

Lord Heseltine’s apparent hesitancy follows a similar speech he made at Teesport earlier this year during celebrations of operator PD Ports’ £35m quay expansion.

At the time, he failed to divulge when work would start, how much it would cost, or where money would come from.

The government has confirmed money will be available for site maintenance and a contamination survey.