Government to blame for Moorside collapse

The Government is to blame for the collapse of NuGen’s plans for a nuclear power station in West Cumbria, Cumbria Chamber of Commerce says.

Proposals for a £15bn plant at Moorside, next to Sellafield, appear to be dead after NuGen’s owner, Toshiba, announced it was winding up the venture after failing to find a buyer.

Toshiba had been in talks to sell NuGen to Kepco of Korea but Kepco’s interest cooled after the Government announced it was looking at a new funding model for nuclear new build.

Rob Johnston, Chief Executive of Cumbria Chamber of Commerce, said: “The Koreans felt this regulated asset base model wouldn’t give them a good enough rate of return.

“We’ve argued consistently that the best way to fund new nuclear power generation is for the Government to invest as a partner alongside the private sector.

“That reduces the risk and so makes the electricity generated cheaper, and it should bring a long-term return for taxpayers.

“The Government is taking a substantial stake, around £5bn, in Hitachi’s Horizon nuclear new build project in Wales.

“But they won’t consider direct investment in Moorside. Why not? Why is Wales a special case but not Cumbria?”

He added: “It’s negligent of ministers to allow the Moorside project to collapse.

“This is a setback for Cumbria. Moorside would have created peak on-site employment for 6,000 people during construction and 1,000 well-paid permanent jobs once operational.

“It also strengthened the case for much-needed investment in Cumbria’s road and rail infrastructure.

“But if this is bad news for Cumbria, it’s a disaster for the UK’s energy security.

“Moorside would have generated 7% of the nation’s electricity, replacing older power plants coming to the end of their life.

“Demand for electricity is going to soar with the roll-out of electric vehicles. National Grid estimates that generating capacity will have to rise by at least 80% by 2050.

“That demand can’t be met without nuclear new build.

“The demise of NuGen is a missed opportunity but Moorside is still a designated site for a nuclear power station.

“The Government must go back to the drawing board to find a new developer to take it on and ministers must come with a better funding model to make it happen.”

© Cumbria Chamber of Commerce