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Tuesday, 30 September 2014

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Council workers could be project managers

COUNCIL staff could be employed as project managers to help pave the way for a new power station in West Cumbria.

NuGen is set to pay for workers from Copeland Borough Council and Cumbria County Council to carry out work, including project management, in a bid to progress the application for the Moorside site, near Sellafield.

A new National Infrastructure Directorate will decide on all new UK power station applications, including Moorside.

But decisions will be made by the government body based on views from the councils, consultations and from prospective developers.

Providing planning performance agreements are signed at the end of the month, NuGen will fund a wide range of work to be done on its behalf by both Copeland and Cumbria County Council staff.

The Spanish-led consortium predicts a £9bn investment for West Cumbria if new electricity-producing reactors are built. A Copeland Borough Council spokesman said: “The successful delivery of a new power station would have a significant positive economic impact on the area and would contribute to West Cumbria’s objective of becoming Britain’s Energy Coast.”

Project management would be among likely workstreams, along with consultations, planning policy implications, socio-economics, community benefits, environmental impact assessment, emergency planning and communications.

NuGen spokesman John McNamara said: “We will be paying the councils for their time on the project.

“We recognise it is labour intensive at a time when councils are under pressure, so we are talking about investing in the time and expertise of council employees.

“It would also mean an additional revenue stream for the councils.

“The PPA is one element to ensure adequate resourcing is available to the council for their involvement in the statutory planning process in relation to the Moorside project.”

Funding could be on an hourly staff rate but the payment method has still to be agreed.

Pat Graham, Copeland’s director for people and places, emphasised: “Requiring the developer to provide funding through a PPA should not be regarded as a means by which the developer can influence the decision by paying for the means by which it is administered.

“Developers are simply doing the same as paying a planning fee.

“They are contributing to the costs incurred by councils to determine major projects – nothing more.”

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