Cumbrian nuclear sites offered to developers

Four sites owned by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority in West Cumbria have been put up for sale to developers as the Government seeks to raise funds for decommissioning.

The NDA says it will listen to all development proposals for the sites at Sellafield, Calder Hall, Windscale and the Low Level Waste Repository facility at Drigg.

However, West Lakes Renaissance, the urban regeneration company for Furness and West Cumbria, and the economic development agency Cumbria Vision are keen to see utility companies who are considering building a new nuclear power station come forward.

Rosie Mathisen, director for nuclear opportunities at West Lakes Renaissance and Cumbria Vision, said: "West Cumbria's nuclear sites have massive potential for a new nuclear power station.

"The private sector is well aware of West Cumbria's status as a world-leader in the nuclear industry. This early marketing of the sites will get across the message that there are many good reasons for new build here.

"Firstly there is ample space for a new power station and to accommodate future expansion. There is also enough reprocessed waste at Sellafield to fuel two new reactors for 60 years at a relatively low cost.

"These assets combined with strong public and local Government support for new build and, of course, West Cumbria's highly skilled nuclear workforce, makes our selling points impossible to ignore."

The NDA's marketing of the site follows January's announcement by Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform John Hutton that Government would streamline the planning process to encourage private sector firms to build a new generation of power station, most likely on or near the site of existing nuclear facilities.

A new nuclear power station in West Cumbria is the central plank to Cumbria Vision's Britain's Energy Coast Masterplan, a package of regeneration projects from training to new business premises.

West Lakes Renaissance, on behalf of the partners behind the masterplan, has commissioned Amec to carry out an assessment of the challenges facing new build in West Cumbria.

Most notable is the lack of a connection to the national grid and the potential difficulties in obtaining planning permission for this.

Mathisen added: "West Lakes Renaissance and partners are shouting loudly about the benefits of a new nuclear power station in West Cumbria.

"However, we have to be realistic and not shy away from the challenges that face us. All we can do is continue to lay the foundations for new build in West Cumbria and help secure the area's long term economic future."

The masterplan totals a £2b public and private sector investment over the next 20 years. These projects aim to create 16,000 jobs and boost the county's economy by £800m.

The NDA faces a £300m budget overrun for 2006-07 and a £72bn long-term clean-up bill.

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