PEOPLE across Cumbria are divided over plans to build a new Mox plant to utilise the UK's plutonium stockpile.

Copeland MP, Jamie Reed, addressed parliament yesterday to encourage a "clear, coherent and timetabled plan" to make the most of Sellafield's nuclear waste.

Around 140 tonnes of plutonium is currently being stored at the west Cumbrian site and Mr Reed believes his constituents are sitting on a gold mine that could create thousands of new jobs in the coming years.

The Labour MP, who is a member of the energy and climate change select committee, and a vice chairman of the all-party parliamentary group on nuclear, said: “Government must take action now to plan for an efficient and effective way to dispose of our nuclear stockpile.

"It’s not a waste, it’s an asset and the longer we leave it, the harder it becomes to do anything with."

It is believed the plant could create as many as 5,000 jobs during construction, in addition to a further 1,000 once it's operational.

Stuart Klosinski, project and programme manager of the Furness Economic Development Forum, has welcomed the idea saying it would create a "tremendous boost" for the area.

He said: "Making use of that stockpile in the way Jamie Reed suggests would be a tremendous boost for Cumbria.

"The whole of the Furness area would benefit not just from the construction but once it's operational as well."

While some people support the economical benefits it could bring, others are disappointed by the idea and believe it could be a disaster for the area.

Marianne Birkby, founder of the Radiation Free Lakeland campaign group, said: "I think this is a horrendous idea and a desperate attempt to pretend that plutonium is anything other than a horrendous product of the industry.

"I just can't believe Jamie Reed is still trying to big up the benefits of burning plutonium.

"The cost to the British taxpayer of the last Mox plant was in the tens of billions but the actual cost to the environment and the public was unquantifiable."

The original Sellafield Mox plant shut in 2011 and yielded only 13.8 tonnes of Mox fuel over its nine-year life, well short of the 120 tonnes predicted.

Energy minister, Andrea Leadsom, said the government would not be able to make a decision on the second plant any time soon, but Mr Reed says there can be no delay.

He said: “Time is of the essence. The longer that government waits to make a decision on plutonium disposition, the more difficult it will become to implement.

“By investing in, and adhering to a strategic plan to utilise Britain’s plutonium stockpile as an asset, not only will we create an economically beneficial solution to a complex issue, but we will also further integrate nuclear research, knowledge and development in West Cumbria, thus continuing to establish the West Coast as a Centre for Global Excellence."

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