COUNCILS in west Cumbria will keep all business rates resulting from the nuclear new-build at Moorside, Sellafield.

Ministers were proposing that Whitehall should keep all the rates received from Moorside, where NuGen plans to build the UK’s biggest nuclear power plant. This would have amounted to many millions of pounds. Sellafield’s annual rates bill is £32m.

But Sue Hayman, Labour MP for Workington, asked Prime Minister David Cameron about the issue during PM’s Questions last week. She has now received a letter confirming that local authorities will retain all business rates resulting from the nuclear new-build.

The Prime Minister’s letter said: “This Government is committed to supporting local areas, like your constituency, which support new developments for local and national economic prosperity.

“That is why, as part of our devolution revolution, by the end of the Parliament local councils will get to keep all of the additional local business rates as a result of a new development, such as that at Moorside.”

Mrs Hayman said: “I am glad that the Prime Minister has confirmed that our local community will be allowed to retain all of the business rates from the nuclear new-build at Moorside, given the cuts our councils and public services in Cumbria are facing.

“Retaining these business rates locally will help to keep west Cumbria at the forefront of the British nuclear renaissance. This step will bring new nuclear in line with communities hosting renewable energy projects.”

Chris Whiteside, who stood for the Conservatives in the last mayoral elections, said: “During the last election Stephen Haraldsen and myself, as the Conservative candidates to be respectively MP for and Mayor of Copeland, wrote to George Osborne asking that local councils should be able to keep control of business rates from any new nuclear power stations in Cumbria. This suggestion was subsequently taken up by others.

“We are delighted by the announcement that the Prime Minister has confirmed that Cumbrian councils will indeed retain all business rates from the proposed Moorside nuclear power station.

“This victory is excellent news for Cumbria and will help councils deliver infrastructure improvements we need.”

NuGen is due to make a decision on whether to proceed with the Moorside project in 2018.