Power station near Sellafield will have its own railway station, health centres and local amenities, with a transport infrastructure to take pressure off local roads.
Image: Existing power station: Sellafield nuclear plant
The site of a new £10billion power plant in Britain has been confirmed, creating up to 21,000 jobs.
A deal to secure the land needed was completed to pave the way for Europe’s biggest new nuclear project.
Venture group Nugen paid an undisclosed sum for the site at Moorside, near Sellafield in Cumbria.
It will see three nuclear reactors constructed on the land which was owned by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA).
The sale follows months of tests to ensure the area is suitable.
The three Westinghouse reactors planned will have a combined output of 3.4 gigawatts, almost seven per cent of the UK’s total electricity needs.
Each of the reactors will take about four years to build, and a small town of 4,000 new homes will be needed for the huge workforce.
It will have its own railway station, health centres and local amenities, with a transport infrastructure to take pressure off local roads.
Much of the material required will be carried to the site by sea.
The new workers’ town will feature sustainable homes, remaining in place after the development is completed to provide social housing, a key need in Cumbria.
Energy Minister Andrea Leadsom said: “Backing the next generation of nuclear projects is a key part of our long-term plan to power the economy with clean, secure energy and keep bills as low as possible for hard working families and businesses.”
Copeland MP Jamie Reed also welcomed the move, saying: “We have lobbied long and hard for new nuclear build to complement the array of world-class nuclear skills we already have here.”
The development is expected to generate up to 21,000 jobs during its lifetime.
Early building work will start in 2017 with a target date of 2024 for the first of three reactors starting to produce power. The other two would follow in 2025 and 2026.
Peak employment will be during the key construction phase in 2022-2024, when about 6,000 people will be involved. During operation, Moorside will directly employ more than 1,000 people.
Developers are set to build a new railway station at Mirehouse, running into the construction site.
A marine off-loading dock for materials brought in by sea is also possible.
Sequencing centres for lorries will aim to keep heavy vehicles off the nearby A595 at peak times.
Nugen chief executive Tom Samson said: “This is great news for the North West and particularly for West Cumbria, the UK’s nuclear heartland.
“We are delighted to be taking forward Moorside, a massive development which will supply some seven per cent of the UK’s future electricity.”
John Clarke, CEO of the NDA, said: “The completion of the land sale supports the initiative to have West Cumbria recognised as a centre of nuclear excellence, building on over six decades of nuclear expertise in the area, whilst delivering excellent value for money for the taxpayer and the national economy.”
Some question marks remain about how the project will be funded.
The European Commission is currently investigating whether government support for the planned new £16 billion Hinkley Point nuclear plant in Somerset breaches EU rules.
The government sees a new generation of nuclear plants as key to our future energy needs.
But anti-nuclear campaigners warned the new project would make the area a terrorist target.
Radiation Free Lakeland’s Marianne Birkby said the land next to Sellafield was originally designated as a ‘buffer zone’ to prevent further development.
She said: “The land acquired was bought out of the public purse as a buffer zone around Sellafield to ensure that there would be no new hazardous development or population increase.
“Protections have been ditched to accommodate the nuclear industry and our nuclear-obsessed government who plan to double the terrorist target of with nuclear sprawl on green fields adjacent to a flood plain.
“The only protections now are for the nuclear industry at the expense of Cumbria and the wider environment. What other industry would be allowed to operate with nominal public liability in the event of contamination accident?”