Copeland Council’s nuclear portfolio holder has stressed the importance of “managing expectations” after new plans to build reactors at Moorside were met with excitement.

Councillor David Moore, who is also the deputy leader of the authority, gave the warning at a virtual meeting of the council’s strategic nuclear and energy board following a report on consortia looking to develop nuclear reactors in the area.

The newly-formed Moorside Consortium, which is made up of French energy giant EDF and partners, hopes to build two EPR-type reactors – the same kind being built at Hinkley Point C and proposed for Sizewell C – on land adjacent to Sellafield.

The UK SMR Consortium, led by Rolls-Royce, is looking for a site for its proposed small modular reactors and is aiming to have the first one built by 2030.

Both groups have approached the council to engage in talks about their plans and Mr Moore acknowledged that the news of interest in the site was cause for optimism but said he remained cautious while they were “a long way” from being up and running.

He said: “Since the publicity went out and, as Rob Ward indicated, went international, I must admit there has been a lot of buzz around that we are up and running again and that things are ready to roll.

“I think we need to manage that; these are very early steps.

“We welcome all of these steps and they fit brilliantly with our Cumbria Nuclear Prospectus; it was almost as if the prospectus was written and then immediately the response to that was people coming forward with proposals.”

Mr Moore backed a suggestion from Mr Ward, who is the council’s nuclear sector development manager, that both consortia could be invited to brief the board.

Councillor Sam Pollen asked whether Copeland would be involved in building any potential SMRs rather than just hosting them and Mr Ward said the council and Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership would hope to secure “some of that activity”.

Mr Pollen also questioned whether funding was already in place for the Moorside plans and if long-standing issues with the infrastructure in West Cumbria could be a problem.

Previous plans to build a new power station at Moorside collapsed in 2018.