NuGen is declining to comment on speculation that it has approached a South Korean energy giant to invest in a nuclear power station at Moorside, Sellafield.

NuGen, a partnership between Toshiba of Japan and the French company ENGIE, wants to build three Westinghouse AP1000 reactors at Moorside.

It is due to make a final decision on whether to proceed in 2018 with a view to starting construction two years later.

According to The Sunday Times, NuGen has approached Korea Electric Power Corporation (Kepco) as a potential investor in the project.

The report says that Toshiba and ENGIE – formerly GDF Suez – are finding raising the £10bn needed to fund Moorside “a challenge” and have approached Kepco and other potential investors.

It adds that Kepco held talks about joining the NuGen consortium in 2013, but no deal materialised.

NuGen confirmed that it was in talks with potential investors but declined to confirm whether Kepco was one of them.

A spokesman said: “Our shareholders, Toshiba and ENGIE, remain committed to funding the development phase of NuGen’s Moorside project until a financial investment decision is reached [in 2018].

“It has always been part of our plans to include investors, debt and equity into the project. A universe of potential investment options is open to us and we have the flexibility to be able to talk with a wide range of potential investors.”

Moorside is seen as crucial to west Cumbria’s prosperity.

The three reactors would have a combined output of 3.6GW – enough to power 6m homes and supply 7.5 per cent of the UK’s electricity needs.

Up to 6,000 people will be working on the site, immediately north and west of Sellafield, at any one time.

NuGen was this week due to start drilling off the Cumbrian coast to gather data to inform the design and layout at Moorside. And it is about to embark on 28 exhibition events across Cumbria as the second stage of a public consultation.

The first of these is in Whitehaven a week on Saturday. More information is online at .