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Copeland nuclear reactor site talks welcomed

Copeland nuclear reactor site talks welcomed Rebecca Weston, Chair of Cumbria LEP’s Clean Energy Sector Panel

Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership, Cumbria County Council, Copeland Borough Council and Britain’s Energy Coast Business Cluster have all welcomed Copeland MP Trudy Harrison’s recent announcement about the potential for new nuclear generation investment in Cumbria.

The partner organisations have been working closely with Rolls Royce and EDF Energy, as both organisations explore the potential for future investment in the Moorside site in West Cumbria.

The interest of these blue-chip organisations reinforces Cumbria’s credentials as the location for clean energy generation and the role that it can play as a significant contributor to meeting the UK’s net zero carbon target.

These potential investments will provide a major boost to Cumbria’s economy post-COVID 19 and importantly make a significant contribution to the UK’s future energy-generation. The model for nuclear projects has been changing in recent years with a move to a more ‘systems build’ approach that creates a much greater opportunity for local supply chain and job creation.

Dr Rebecca Weston, Chair of Cumbria LEP’s Clean Energy Sector Panel, said: “I am really pleased that we now have two major companies expressing serious interest in siting new nuclear developments in Cumbria. This demonstrates our credentials as a premier site for clean energy generation. The UK is committed to net zero carbon and Cumbria has an important role in supporting the achievement of this.”

Cumbria already has one of the world’s largest offshore operational windfarms near Barrow and offshore wind capability will be extended further once the Round 4 licensing process off Cumbria’s west coast proceeds. These, together with the new nuclear capability, will see Cumbria become a national leader in clean energy generation.

The UK SMR Consortium, fronted by Rolls Royce, has been pre-eminent in presenting a British option and solution for Small Modular Reactor (SMR) technologies, and is planning on entering the UK GDA licensing process next year. The Consortium has plans in place to begin producing power from its Small Modular Reactor (SMR) power plants before the end of this decade.

EDF is building the UK’s first large-scale nuclear power station in a generation at Hinkley Point C in Somerset. The project is achieving its milestones and benefiting from significant increases in efficiency and productivity. It is also having a transformative effect on the regional economy. The application to build a replica of the UK approved EPR design at Sizewell in Suffolk has recently been submitted to the Planning Inspectorate.

Dr Weston added: “Cumbria is determined to put a strong case forward to ensure that we are at the forefront of both government and investors’ thinking, when they are considering new nuclear. There is the necessary skills, know-how and consented sites to make Cumbria the destination of choice for clean energy investment.”

Councillor David Southward, Cumbria County Council Cabinet Member for Economic Development and Property, said: “It’s encouraging to note the interest shown by both Rolls Royce and EDF. Cumbria, with its unique history in the nuclear sector, would be extremely well placed to play its part in the rollout of such technology.

”I’m pleased to be a member of the LEP’s Clean Energy Sector Panel and initiatives such as this offer the potential to contribute to the development of the clean energy agenda within Cumbria, as well as its wider economy.”

John Grainger, Executive Director of Britain’s Energy Coast Business Cluster, said: “We welcome the interest being shown by such large organisations in the field of energy production. The dual benefits of new inward investment allied to a strong and experienced local supply chain offers a really exciting prospect for maximising economic benefit to our area.”

Councillor David Moore, Copeland Council’s Portfolio Holder for Nuclear and Corporate Services, said: “The Council has been a long term supporter of the development of the Moorside site for new low-carbon energy generation to make a contribution to the nation’s future energy needs.

“We firmly believe that nuclear technologies have a key role to play in our clean energy future and our communities have a long history of pioneering clean energy technologies. The proposals for development of new reactors at Moorside aligns closely with the Clean Energy Park vision set out in the Cumbria Nuclear Prospectus and is fantastic news for the locality.

“As the council’s Portfolio Holder, I look forward to continuing the dialogue with the consortium to bring this exciting proposal to fruition.”

It is clear that at a time when we need to ‘restart, reboot and rethink’ our economy in response to COVID-19, these potential investments will make a significant contribution to long-term recovery.

The partnership is committed to making sure that it does everything it can to turn these proposals into reality and create supply chain and employment opportunities for West Cumbria and Cumbria more widely.

These new investments would see Cumbria position itself as the complete nuclear location building on the existing excellence in Sellafield Ltd, BAE Submarine Systems, National Nuclear Laboratories and the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority in Cumbria.

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