The chair of Solway Community Power Company (SCPC) has said that construction of a small modular reactor (SMR) could begin ‘next week’ if approved by the government.

Land near Sellafield has been earmarked by SCPP to place a Rolls Royce SMR which the group say could have a big impact on the local economy.

Speaking at the Northern Nuclear Conference at Carlisle Racecourse on Friday, June 30, chair of the SCPC, Paul Foster, said: “This project exists because the area asked for it, and it's as simple as that.

“It's not just about the economic value of the project, but it's to get an advantage so we can then export skills and supply chain capabilities and so that's what led us to securing an agreement with Rolls-Royce.

News and Star: How the Rolls Royce SMR could lookHow the Rolls Royce SMR could look (Image: Supplied)“We'd ready to start now next week, and we don't require anything that isn't revocable, that's exclusive or that would cause any risk or regret, so we are just after the same type of agreement that you'd get for a wind farm and allow us to begin the assessment of the site.”

The SCPP has backing amongst West Cumbrian MPs including Workington MP, Mark Jenkinson and Copeland MP, Trudy Harrison, who said that the project would be “good for our planet” and mean “prosperity for our community.”

The project was raised to the nuclear minister, Andrew Bowie at the conference who wouldn’t be drawn on a timescale for the project, nor would he commit to government backing.

Speaking to the News and Star, Mr Bowie said: “What the Solway Community Power Company are offering is an incredibly exciting proposal.

“I've engaged with the company, and I will continue to do so moving forward.

“Of course, we want to see companies and ideas and organizations like this get the support they need to move forward but we just have to make sure that we do it in the proper fashion.

“But I am very excited by what they're offering.”

Mr Bowie’s role as the nuclear minister is newly created and is part of the government’s push towards creating more nuclear power sites in the UK as part of their energy security and net zero emissions campaign.

The government is launching ‘Great British Nuclear’ (GBN) next month and its first job is first job to launch a new competition for the best SMR technologies to be developed in the Autumn with the minister confirming that Cumbria is being considered as part of those plans.