BOSSES at a Teesside power plant said £55m funding towards the installation of an eco-friendly boiler should be in place by the end of the year.

SempCorp Utilities UK's plan to develop its power plant at Wilton, near Billingham, depends upon securing funding from its parent company.

If built, the company said the wood-burning boiler would lead to a significant reduction in emissions of pollutants such as sulphur dioxide.

The new boiler would work in tandem with the site's three oil, gas and coal boilers.

A spokesman for SempCorp's Wilton plant confirmed the company was hoping to receive permission from the Singapore-based parent company in the next three months.

The spokesman said: "There has been a lot of work on this project even before we have received confirmation that the money will be there. We are hoping that will come soon."

SempCorp managing director Paul Gavens told a renewable energies conference in Guisborough last month that the project would help the site improve diversity of fuel, as well as cut pollution.

The overhaul of the plant, planned to get under way next year, with the boiler expected to be operational by 2007, will not create jobs.

However, SempCorps said jobs would be created in agriculture and distribution as farmers and foresters within 50 miles of the site supplied raw materials for the boiler.

The boiler at Wilton will represent the biggest investment at the plant since it opened 50 years ago.