A Government minister has given his backing to retaining hundred of highly-skilled jobs at a Lancashire nuclear fuel factory.
Energy minister John Hayes has told trade union leaders, business bosses and Fylde MP Mark Menzies that he would support the manufacture of fuel to power the next generation of reactors taking place in the UK.
The Evening Post understands the Government is looking at the lengths it can go to encourage firms building new reactors to buy from the Springfields Fuels plant at Salwick, near Preston.
The minister held a high-level meeting attended by representatives of the Prospect and Unite trade unions and Mike Tynan, chief executive of Westinghouse UK, the energy giant which runs the fuel factory.
The site’s owners is pushing to build its AP1000 reactor as part of the new fleet of reactors due to be built during the nuclear renaissance and has vowed to buy fuel for any reactors it builds from Springfields.
Mr Menzies said he was confident Westinghouse would create a new hub for its nuclear supply chain if it secures a deal to build one of its AP1000 reactors in the UK.
He said: “Westinghouse is prepared to put everything on the table, it is incredibly pragmatic and determined to keep skills and high-quality jobs at Springfields.
“In the event it should win a contract to build the AP1000 in the UK, it would bring further jobs to Lancashire.
“As the local MP, I not only want to see jobs secured at Springfields, I want to see additional jobs created in Lancashire and I am committed to working with the Government to do so.”
Westinghouse missed out on the chance to build a pair of reactors when it was beaten in a bid for the Horizon Nuclear Power consortium by Japanese giant, Hitachi, last year.
A successful bid would have landed it generations of new work for the Springfields site.
Mike Graham, national secretary of nuclear workers’ union, Prospect, said Mr Hayes would visit the Lancashire site later this year.
The visit would involve a meeting with workers at Springfields and the National Nuclear Laboratory at the Salwick site.