Kingmoor Park AERIAL May c Kingmoor park properties

Carlisle's Kingmoor Park is one of a handful of sites being considered for an SMR production site. Credit: Kingmoor Park Properties

Carlisle’s Kingmoor makes four-strong factory shortlist

Holtec Britain has whittled down the contenders to host a production site to build a fleet of small modular reactors for use in the nuclear sector across the UK, Europe, and the Middle East.

Kingmoor Park, the wide-ranging industrial site close to Carlisle, was put forward by Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership and Cumberland Council jointly with a formal expression of interest.

Kingmoor is up against sites promoted by the respective combined authorities of South Yorkshire, Tees Valley, and the West Midlands.

The chosen location will benefit from an initial investment of £1.3bn, reflecting Holtec’s budget for construction, while the development and operation of the 49-acre site is anticipated to directly generate thousands of jobs over the next 15 years.

SMRs are viewed as being essential to help the UK meet its net zero and energy security ambitions with a government target of 24GigaWatts of nuclear capacity by 2050.

Holtec Britain, part of Florida-headquartered Holtec International, said that new economic analysis carried out by economics consultancy ChamberlainWalker states that the planned factory will be part of an export market, which could be worth hundreds of billions in the run up to 2050.

The project is also projected to contribute approximately £1.5bn in GVA to the economy of the winning location.

Earlier this year, local authorities and businesses were invited to submit expressions of interest, assessed on deliverability, connectivity, regeneration potential, skills and research, and quality of life. Of 13 bids, nine have been discarded.

A final decision to select the winner will be made in the autumn. It is expected that the site will be used to produce two to four reactors per year, valued at £1-2bn each. The factory site will not itself deal with any nuclear fuel.

Holtec has been active in the UK for over a decade, notably with Sizewell B, and is ramping up its UK operations by adding key boardroom figures such as Baroness Brown of Cambridge, former vice-chair of the Committee on Climate Change, who joined as a senior adviser in February.

Lord Inglewood, chair of Cumbria LEP said “It is excellent news that Kingmoor Park is one of the shortlisted sites and confirms that Cumbria is recognised as one of the most serious players in both clean energy and advanced manufacturing capabilities.

“Holtec Britain has recognised that we have the necessary skills and expertise to meet their requirements and we are prepared to make sure that we showcase these in the next stage of the process.”

The bid represents a second shot at SMR success: in 2022, Kingmoor Park was shortlisted by Rolls-Royce’s nuclear division for an SMR facility.

Andrew Seekings, chief executive of Cumberland Council, said: “We are thrilled that Kingmoor Park has been shortlisted. The potential investment and creation of high-quality jobs would support regeneration and have a long-term positive impact on our communities.”

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