Nuclear workers are facing a further six months of uncertainty after a pair of European energy giants walked away from a multi-billion pound deal.
German firms RWE and E.ON yesterday announced they were pulling out of a joint venture company, Horizon Nuclear Power, which is building a new power station in Anglesey, North Wales.
The AP1000 reactor built by Westinghouse, which has its head office at Buckshaw Village, near Chorley, is bidding to be the design picked to be built at the site.
If selected, the fuel to power it would be made by the 1,000-strong workforce at Springfields Fuels at Salwick, near Preston, securing work for up to a century.
Today, a trade union leader said he was confident new investors would be found to take on the Horizon project - but admitted the delay added uncertainty to the long-term future of the factory.
Mike Graham, national secretary of nuclear workers’ union, Prospect, said: “All workers at Springfields want is certainty and this adds further uncertainty.
“I do not believe they need to be unduly worried as a six-month delay on a deal which could bring another 100 years of work.
“I am confident that everything which can be done to ensure work comes to Springfields is being done.”
In a letter to Mr Graham, energy minister Charles Hendry said the shock announcement was “not good news in the North West” and said the Government “did everything” to try and convince RWE and E.ON to stay on board.
He added: “We will not be deflected from our goal of making the UK the number one place to invest in new nuclear.
“The Government will now work with RWE and E.ON find a buyer for Horizon and its sites which I believe represent an extremely attractive investment opportunity.”
Westinghouse UK vice-president Mike Tynan said he was “confident” new investors would be found to replace RWE and E.ON as backers.
He said: “Horizon is confident that investors will come forward, who those investors are and what their feelings towards the AP1000 is, I could not say.”
It is believed that utilities in China, where the AP1000 has already been built, could be interested in the deal.
Horizon has also earmarked land at Oldbury, Gloucestershire for a new power station.