Lancashire nuclear fuel factory set to become 'Clean Energy Park'
Lancashire's nuclear fuel manufacturing plant is to become a technology hub for the nuclear industry in a move which may help safeguard almost 1,000 jobs.
The Springfields site at Salwick has been manufacturing nuclear fuel for more than 75 years, and currently provides the fuel for more than 30 per cent of the UK’s low carbon electricity.
It is run by the Westinghouse Electric Company, which unveiled the plan to create the Clean Energy Technology Park saying it could help the country with its commitments under the Paris Agreement to cutting greenhouse gases, by replacing fossil fuel power with nuclear in the future.
It said the Clean Energy Technology Park "will be a "vibrant innovation campus open to technology developers, supply chain and academia to co-locate and collaborate to develop and demonstrate advanced nuclear technologies".
It added that the site will also It will also become a centre of excellence for nuclear materials management, which will exist alongside Westinghouse’s fuel manufacturing facilities already on the Springfields site.
The move means any research groups or firms moving there could get "significant benefits", including working with an industry leading nuclear operator on an established nuclear site licence; environmental permits allowing a broad range of activities; large areas of land available for development; access to world-class people and facilities; and regulatory and compliance support.
Mark Menzies, Member of Parliament for Fylde, said: “Westinghouse is a global leader in the nuclear industry and a major employer in the north west of England. As the UK transitions towards Net Zero carbon emissions in 2050, I am delighted that the Clean Energy Technology Park will be located at Springfields.
"This will ensure the site remains at the forefront of advancements in nuclear technology, providing highly skilled jobs, significant economic benefits and enabling innovation to
flourish in the North West.”
The hub was launched the Clean Energy Technology Park on Friday to an invited audience from Government, the nuclear industry, and the local community.
Brian Nixon, Westinghouse’s Managing Director, UK Fuel Operations said, “The Clean Energy Technology Park at Springfields will be the place to invest, innovate and grow nuclear in the UK, and we are absolutely delighted to be able to welcome industry, academia and developers to collaborate with us in order to help realise the UK’s Net Zero commitment by 2050.”
The site is a key player in the Northern Powerhouse and at the centre of the North West Nuclear Arc, a network of nuclear sites stretching from Cumbria to north Wales.
It supplies uranium fuels for several of Britain's ageing nuclear power station's reactors but had high hopes of being chosen to provide fuel for the planned Moorside project to build three new stations at Sellafield before parent company Toshiba got into financial difficulties.
Westinghouse and Springfields nevertheless have developed technology for smaller, cheaper Small Modular Reactor power stations for the future.
The Unite union has welcomed the plans and said the park will increase the site’s ‘ability to play a significant role in the UK’s process towards net zero by 2050’ and bring jobs and investment to the north west of England.
Unite national officer for energy and utilities Peter McIntosh said: “The announcement today made by Westinghouse supported by the National Nuclear Laboratory is to be welcomed.
“The Springfields site is already a world-class facility and a key strategic asset to the UK. The Clean Energy Technology Park will only add to its ability to play a significant role in the UK’s process towards net zero by 2050.
“It will bring much needed investment to the north west of England and provide long-term, highly skilled jobs.”