Chamber calls on the Government to invest in Moorside
14 Feb 2017
The Government must consider investing directly in Moorside to make sure the nuclear power plant in West Cumbria goes ahead.
That is the view of Cumbria Chamber of Commerce chief executive Rob Johnston who was responding to the deepening crisis at Toshiba, the main partner in the NuGen joint venture behind Moorside.
Toshiba faces a $6bn (£4.8bn) write down on its US nuclear business.
It has announced that it intends to sell its 60 per cent stake in NuGen before construction begins.
NuGen wants to build three Westinghouse AP1000 reactors at Moorside, next to Sellafield.
The project would bring huge investment with up to 6,000 people working on site at any one time during construction.
Once complete, Moorside would generate more than 7.0 per cent of the UK’s electricity.
Mr Johnston argues that the scheme is of such strategic national importance that the Government should consider taking a direct stake in NuGen, investing public money alongside the private sector to ensure the project goes ahead.
He said: "It is crucial that we have a stable and competitive energy supply for business, and to that end we think the Government needs to review its decision to be hands off.
"Hinkley Point has shown that, because of the risks involved in building nuclear, the Government has to guarantee a high price for the electricity in order to secure investment, and high electricity prices make businesses uncompetitive.
"It may well be that the Government should take a stake in NuGen, sharing the risk and potential rewards with the private sector.
"That would ensure Moorside goes ahead, reduce the cost of the electricity generated and ultimately benefit the public finances.”
Toshiba has a 60 per cent stake in NuGen, alongside ENGIE of France. The South Korean power utility company Kepco is the only other private-sector investor known to have expressed an interest in joining NuGen.
Toshiba had been due to make an announcement on the future of its nuclear programme on Tuesday but asked the regulator for more time to agree the size of the write down with its auditors.
The company’s chairman, Shigenori Shiga, resigned on Tuesday as its share price fell further.
Mr Johnston added: "Moorside is a tremendous opportunity for Cumbria and it would be extremely disappointing if it were not to go ahead.”
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