Japanese industrial giant Toshiba has formally taken a controlling stake in NuGen, the consortium behind plans to build three reactors at Moorside, near Sellafield.
The agreement sees Toshiba secure a 60 per cent stake and French firm GDF Suez retain a 40 per cent holding in NuGen, which has formed a new management team with Sandy Rupprecht as chief executive.
The consortium has also reached an agreement of around £200m to acquire the Moorside site from the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA).
John Clarke, the NDA’s chief executive, said the sale marks a “significant milestone” in nuclear new-build and “excellent news for the local community in terms of investment and jobs.”
The Whitehaven News reported last week that NuGen plans to be back on site next month to begin geographical surveys. It is hoped that site suitability will be determined next year, planning permission and licensing granted in 2018, allowing for construction to begin in 2020. The first AP1000 reactor would go on stream in 2024 and all three, with a combined 3.4GW capacity, operational by 2026.
Mr Rupprecht said: “Moorside is the most exciting new nuclear build project in Europe.
“We will be taking forward our project in West Cumbria – the UK’s nuclear heartland – and we expect the national and regional economies to benefit extensively.”
The announcement has been roundly welcomed. Copeland MP Jamie Reed said: “I don’t believe that there is another area of comparable size in the UK set to receive the sheer scale of economic investment that we are in West Cumbria – and every penny has been hard won.
“NuGen has rightly called our area Britain’s nuclear heartland, and we are about to commence Europe’s biggest new nuclear project.
“None of this has happened by accident, but close to a decade of work is beginning to pay off: we are beginning to turn the corner, we are building a new West Cumbria.”
The Sellafield Workers Campaign, which last month held an industry day to promote the benefits of new-build, welcomed the creation of new jobs during construction and when the plant becomes operational.
Craig Dobson, SWC secretary, added: “Low carbon nuclear power represents a major way forward for the world and the UK to drastically cut those emissions, protect our environment and keep the country’s lights on.”
Elaine Woodburn, leader of Copeland Council, said: “This is another significant step in the journey towards billions in investment and thousands of jobs, and we are delighted.”
David Southward, Cumbria County Council’s Cabinet member for nuclear, said: “It’s another important step in the development of this massive project which will be a linchpin of West Cumbria’s economic future.”
Source: Whitehaven News