Union demands government intervenes in Cumbria nuclear plant project

Vision: An artist's impression of what the Moorside power plant might look like
Vision: An artist's impression of what the Moorside power plant might look like
5 October 2017 4:49PM

THE GMB union has demanded the government intervene in the Moorside project after the chief executive of NuGen confirmed the project would be delayed.

The call came after NuGen chief executive Tom Samson said a change in ownership of the company – expected to take place in early 2018 – would mean the start date for the £10bn project would shift from 2025 to later in the 2020s.

Speaking on Wednesday, Mr Samson said he was more confident than ever that the project, expected to bring a huge wave of investment in to west Cumbria, would take place.

The GMB said it “welcomed the honesty” of NuGen, but demanded that the government intervene to help deliver a project of “vital” importance to Britain, which is expected to deliver seven per cent of the nation’s electricity needs.

Chris Jukes, GMB senior organiser, said: “This delay is far from a surprise and finally confirms what GMB has been saying for months.

“We welcome the honesty from NuGen and ask why the government is so silent and failing to show leadership on Moorside.

“Britain needs this vital new infrastructure, and the reliable zero carbon electricity it will produce, and it is the government’s responsibility to make sure it is built and in a timely manner.”

NuGen would not respond to the GMB's latest call.

Mr Samson said there were several “credible buyers” for the project and that there was a “high likelihood there will be a new reactor technology".

He said: "When we are in a partnership with different technologies and shareholders, it is inevitable that that would change schedules. We will have a new plan which we will need to create with any new owner and that will take us beyond 2025.”

Korea Electric Power Corporation and China General Nuclear Power Corporation have both expressed an interest in buying into NuGen. Both Kepco and CGN have their own reactor designs, which would need regulatory approval if they were to be used by NuGen.

Doubts have surrounded the Moorside project because of issues affecting NuGen's owner, Toshiba.

Toshiba's woes stem from part of its nuclear operations. In January the company announced its then US subsidiary, Westinghouse Electric, which was originally part of BNFL, may have overpaid – by several billion dollars – for another nuclear construction and services business.

This contributed to losses in its nuclear business which profits elsewhere did not mitigate.

Earlier this year Westinghouse – due to supply three AP1000 reactors to Moorside – filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the USA. This led French firm Engie, which formerly held a minority stake in NuGen, to trigger shareholder agreements which forced Toshiba to take full control.

Toshiba has always insisted that it remains committed to the Cumbrian project though it has long term plans to sell its stake.

Last month, the GMB said potential investment from China was “not the solution” and called for the government to invest in the project.

Comment on this article

Generate a new code
Comments not OK? Click here to let us know
Read this..