Nuclear chiefs call for Moorside action

Tom Greatrex, of the Nuclear Industry Association (NIA)
Tom Greatrex, of the Nuclear Industry Association (NIA)

Nuclear industry chiefs are calling for new builds to go-ahead, as fears grow about the future of the Moorside project in west Cumbria.

It follows speculation about the planned multi-billion pound project after reports that its major investor, Toshiba, is about to leave the nuclear industry altogether. The firm insists no final decision has been taken.

Tom Greatrex, chief executive of the Nuclear Industry Association, has spoken out about the need for nuclear, saying: "Nuclear provides more than 20 per cent of our electricity, and with two thirds of the country’s large power stations retiring by 2030, we need new stations to be built so that there is a secure, reliable and always available supply of power for homes, businesses and public services.

"That is why new nuclear remains an important part of the country’s energy policy, as both Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn have made clear."

And Tim Yeo, chairman of New Nuclear Watch Europe (NNWE), said: "NNWE has long been an advocate of opening up the UK market for new nuclear build to alternative vendors, and has made repeated calls on government to commission a study of which nuclear technologies offer the best value for money.

He said: "Nuclear is vital to delivering a secure, low carbon and affordable energy mix. Complacency is not an option and government needs to create the right conditions for countries like China, Korea and Russia to come to the UK, invest and build."

The nuclear industry is a hot topic for Copeland's by-election candidates, who are vying for the seat of MP.

Gillian Troughton, for Labour, said: "I back the Moorside development one hundred per cent.

"My husband works in the nuclear industry, and I know how vital nuclear is for the local economy and for the livelihoods of thousands of people. It’s about good jobs for today and good jobs for tomorrow.

"New nuclear in Copeland is essential as part of the energy mix to keep our lights on.

"The latest reports from Toshiba cast worrying doubts for everyone here. We need urgent action from the Tory government to reassure people here that this vital project will go ahead."

Conservative candidate Trudy Harrison said: "If these reports are true then this is disappointing news. However, as someone who has met with the Chief Executive of Nugen I am confident they would be able to find another partner.

"The nuclear industry is vital to our local area and I will fight, using all my experience of getting investment into local services, to secure Copeland’s next generation of nuclear power."

Liberal Democrat candidate, Rebecca Hanson, said: "Listening to people in the nuclear industry it seems there is reasonable optimism that other investors will be found; that's encouraging.

"This is a concerning situation but there are some indications that it may be successfully resolved - although it may take some time."

Independent candidate Michael Guest, said "it would be very concerning" if Toshiba pulled out.

"We do want it to go ahead. If they did go, I would look to the government for another company to take it on."

Roy Ivinson, independent candidate, said: "It's absolutely vital that nuclear reactors are built in this country and I would like them to be built at Sellafield."

He said nuclear industry can help to tackle global warming and also enable the infrastructure for other renewable energy sources.

Mr Ivinson said he feels Toshiba doesn't have the backing of Japanese government, and the election of President Donald Trump may have an affect on the nuclear industry in the US.

He added: "British government need to put their money where their mouth is otherwise this deal won't go ahead."

But Green party candidate Jack Lenox described the Moorside proposals as "a pie in the sky project".

"It shows that projects being privately funded are a bad idea from the outset. People should be backing the tidal lagoon project rather than Moorside."

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