09.11.2018_No223 / News in Brief

UK Nuclear Industry And Unions Call On Government To Facilitate New Reactors

Policies & Politics

9 Nov (NucNet): It is vital that the UK government facilitates the build of new nuclear on the Moorside site in northwest England for the sake of the energy security of the UK and for the local economy in Cumbria, the body representing the country’s nuclear industry has said.

Tom Greatrex, chief executive of the London-based Nuclear Industry Association, was responding to the news yesterday that Toshiba’s has decided to wind up NuGen, the company overseeing plans to build three new Westinghouse AP1000 units at the Moorside site.

Mr Greatrex said Toshiba’s announcement was “sad news” for all those involved in the project and for the nuclear sector.

“With all but one of the UK’s nuclear power plant due to come offline before 2030, there’s an urgent need for new nuclear to be built quickly, and the Moorside site has a key role to play in this,” Mr Greatrex said.

He said he Moorside site in Cumbria remains a site designated by the government for nuclear new build and has “huge local support”.

Unions representing energy workers said the news was devastating for Cumbria and the wider energy sector. They called on the government to ensure a secure and stable supply of energy throughout the UK by taking a stake in the project.

Sue Ferns, senior deputy general secretary of Prospect union, said: “The truth is that ministers have dithered and delayed for far too long. We now need urgent action.

“Our analysis shows that if the government were to take a 50% stake then there would be a net benefit to the public purse, so there really is no excuse not to.”

The GMB union said GMB said a nuclear development agency needs to be created to make sure Moorside, and the accompanying creation of thousands of new jobs and apprenticeships, goes ahead.

GMB has long argued the government should take a stake in the financing of the project rather than leaving it “at the mercy of foreign companies”.

Justin Bowden, GMB national secretary, said: “The British government has blood on its hands as the final sad but predictable nail is banged into the coffin of Toshiba’s jinxed jaunt into nuclear power.

“Relying in this way on foreign companies for our country’s essential energy needs was always irresponsible.”

Toshiba said in a statement it would take a JPY18.8bn (€143m) hit from closing NuGen, which had already been cut to a skeleton staff, after it failed to find a buyer for the project to build three Westinghouse AP1000 nuclear power units.

After a board meeting on Thursday, Toshiba said that it was winding up NuGen because of its inability to find a buyer and the ongoing costs it was incurring. The company has already spent more than €459m on the project.

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David Dalton

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