Lancashire nuclear jobs fears after Toshiba’s ‘sell-off’

The Sellafield nuclear plant in Seascale, Cumbria, near to where a planned �10 billion power plant is to be built at Moorside
The Sellafield nuclear plant in Seascale, Cumbria, near to where a planned �10 billion power plant is to be built at Moorside
Have your say

The company building a new nuclear power station in Cumbria insists Toshiba “remains committed” to the multi billion-pound project despite doubts after the Japanese giant revealed a huge loss.

NuGen said the planned new plant at Moorside was at the core of the

UK’s plans for providing safe, sustainable low-carbon electricity for

generations to come.

Toshiba owns Westinghouse, which has a site at Springfields, near Preston, whose AP1000 nuclear reactors are to be used at a planned £10 billion power plant at Moorside in Cumbria.

It also has a 60 per cent stake in Nugen.

Toshiba chairman Shigenori Shiga announced he was stepping down after the company said it was on track to announce losses of 390bn yen (£2.7 billion) for the year to March.

UK unions have voiced concerns.

Toshiba, which has a 60 per cent stake in NuGen, the company planning to build the site, said in a statement: “Toshiba will consider participating in the project without taking on any risk from carrying out actual

construction work.

“As planned from the beginning, Toshiba will seek to sell the shares to interested parties.”

Plans for a new power station in the UK had carried hopes of creating thousands of new jobs and boosting national energy security.

Toshiba Corp’s shares on the Tokyo Stock Exchange dropped more than nine per cent from 244.7 Japanese Yen to 227JY.

Chris Jukes, the GMB union’s senior officer for Sellafield, said: “A new build at Moorside is part of a vital broader and home grown energy mix - built, maintained and operated by British workers.

“Brexit should be a perfect opportunity to demonstrate conclusively a better way for nuclear in West Cumbria. For 70 years Whitehaven has been a hub for nuclear.

“The west Cumbria area must have new build to drive the regeneration that would follow with a new plant.

“New infrastructure, new roads, better railways, demand for housing, health and school places, would all follow a brand new power plant. All of these can fuel employment and keep skills in the area.

“That is why we are calling on the British Government to commit the investment that is lost by Toshiba pulling out and for the British and Japanese governments to work together on a broader solution so that post Brexit, West Cumbria jobs, skills and nuclear futures are guaranteed.”

Unite national officer for energy Kevin Coyne said: “This is potentially a deeply troubling development and points to the need for the Government to take a more strategic approach in bringing new nuclear power stations on stream.

“Whether the UK can keep the lights on cannot be left to the vagaries of the market or business decisions taken on the other side of the globe.”

Shadow business secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey said: “The Government’s energy policy is in chaos.

“We have become increasingly reliant on the decisions of foreign companies whose interests lie with their owners and not British consumers.

“If Toshiba pulls out of the proposed Moorside plant in Cumbria, the Government must intervene immediately and provide public support and financial stability for Moorside and the community of west Cumbria.”

She added: “Labour backs new nuclear and an expansion of renewable energy to keep the lights on and meet our climate change targets.”

However, Greenpeace UK said any public spending should be on renewable energy schemes rather than nuclear.

Kate Blagojevic, the charity’s head of energy, said: “As Toshiba announces multibillion-dollar losses this week, our Government is considering using public funding to kick-start the nuclear build at Moorside.

“It could cost up to £4 billion of taxpayers’ money. This year’s school leavers could still be paying for the project as they approach their pension age.

“The cost of renewables is falling, with offshore wind, storage and smart grid technologies all coming down in price.

“There is no case for a special case on nuclear, and the Government should not insulate nuclear from its private sector failure and take on this risk when clean energy alternatives are a better bet.”