The nuclear fusion facility is due to open in the early 2040s. Credit: via UKAEA

Cumbria loses out on £222m nuclear prototype

Moorside was the North West’s only shortlisted location for the proposed STEP fusion reactor, which will be built at West Burton A in Nottinghamshire. 

The prototype energy plant known as Spherical Tokamak for Energy Production would be capable of creating a limitless supply of low-carbon energy, according to the UK Atomic Energy Authority. 

Moorside was one of five shortlisted sites in the running for the project, which should be operational by the early 2040s. 

“We are extremely disappointed in the news that Moorside hasn’t been chosen in this instance,” said Cllr David Moore, portfolio holder for nuclear at Copeland Council. 

“West Cumbria hosts world leaders in the nuclear industry and this would have been the perfect site to host the STEP fusion reactor.” 

Business secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg announced yesterday that the £222m nuclear project would be awarded to West Burton A, a coal-fired power plant in Nottinghamshire that closed this year. 

West Burton A was not among the originally shortlisted sites, which included Ardeer in North Ayrshire, Goole in East Riding of Yorkshire, Severn Edge in South Gloucestershire and Ratcliffe-on-Soar in Nottinghamshire, alongside Moorside. 

However, earlier this year, Ratcliffe-on-Soar was removed from consideration by the government, with West Burton added to the shortlist having previously been identified as a reserve site. 

Cllr Stewart Young, leader of Cumbria County Council said he was “bitterly disappointed” by the decision to overlook Cumbria.

“West Burton A site in Nottinghamshire was not on the original shortlist, but was added late in the process. We will be seeking a full explanation as to why what was clearly a very strong bid from Cumbria was turned down.

“Right now it feels like another kick in the teeth for West Cumbria.”

While Cumbria will not be home to the STEP facility, Copeland Council remains determined to ramp up its nuclear ambitions.

“We are committed to delivering new nuclear to the Moorside green energy park, it’s more important than ever in the current economic climate,” Moore said. 

“There are other opportunities in the pipeline, Copeland will be the home of new nuclear.” 

The fact that Cumbria was identified as a potential site for the STEP scheme demonstrates that the county “is now perceived as a credible investment destination for large-scale energy projects”, according to Jo Lappin chief executive at the Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership. 

“Cumbria was recognised as putting forward an excellent site, with an outstanding application and offer. But we knew that this was a hugely competitive process, with dozens of sites considered. It was always going to be a big challenge to secure this globally significant investment.” 

Lappin agreed with Moore that the defeat should not signal the end of Cumbria’s future nuclear ambitions. 

“Irrespective of the decision, we see an important role for fusion and other nuclear technologies in Cumbria in the future,” she said. “Around 40% of today’s nuclear workforce is based in the North West, so we are ideally placed to deliver new nuclear investments.” 

Moorside, located near Sellafield, had previously been identified as the proposed location for a nuclear power plant for NuGen. 

That plan was scrapped in 2018 and NuGen has been dissolved.  

In addition, EDF and Rolls Royce are in talks over plans to create small modular reactors at Moorside 

Lappin added: “The LEP and our partners will continue to explore opportunities for new energy infrastructure and the supporting supply chain in line with our recently published Clean Energy Strategy, with more opportunities already in the pipeline.” 

Cumbria County Council was contacted for comment. 

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So why wasn’t Fiddlers Ferry on the list?

By Anonymous

@Anon…..Yes very strange considering the clout Peel has.

By Eric

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