Fylde MP says battle for new nuclear plant will go on

The Springfields Oxide fuel plant at Salwick
The Springfields Oxide fuel plant at Salwick

A Lancashire MP has said the fight to build a new nuclear power plant in the region, which would provide work for county fuel makers, is not over.

Japanese firm Toshiba finally announced it is to wind up its troubled nuclear arm, which was which was leading the Nugen project to build a new power station at Moorside near Sellafield.

Mark Menzies MP

Mark Menzies MP

Westinghouse was a partner in the scheme and its workers at Springfields plant in Salwick were in line to make the nuclear fuel.

Unions and the Civil Engineering Contractors Association (CECA) said it was a potential hammer blow, but Fylde MP Mark Menzies said the move freed up the project for someone else to take over.

A statement from Tokyo said: “After considering the additional costs entailed in continuing to operate NuGen, Toshiba recognises that the economically rational decision is to withdraw from the UK nuclear power plant construction project, and has resolved to take steps to wind up NuGen.”

It said it had followed 18 months of failed negotiations with new partners.

It added: “The Moorside site remains a site designated for nuclear new build, and it is now for the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority as the owner of the site and the Government to determine its future.”

Mr Menzies said: “I’ve been in constant contact with ministers and the industry throughout this process and the minister visited Springfields in Fylde just a few weeks ago.

“He is a big supporter of the nuclear industry, as am I, and we are being kept well informed about the changing situation.

“We will not let the long-running and deep-seated problems within Toshiba become a barrier to the eventual development of Moorside.

“Whoever the eventual developer is – and it is such a strong site we should have no issue finding a replacement – I will do everything I can to support them and the surrounding supply chain. I have always called for any fuel for the site to be manufactured here in Fylde at Springfields.”

Justin Bowden, national officer of the GMB said: “Relying in this way on foreign companies for our country’s essential energy needs was always irresponsible. A new nuclear power station in West Cumbria remains vital for the UK’s future energy security and requires urgent action.

CECA’s Guy Lawson said: “The decision to wind up NuGen is a potential hammer blow to the nuclear sector and the local economy.

“It is essential that this competitive advantage and the nuclear skills base are maintained, through sustained investment in nuclear new build, harnessing this capability and delivering low carbon energy to power the UK economy.

“With Toshiba’s decision now made, we call on the Government to act promptly, working with industry to consider how the Moorside project can continue.