Steven Broomhead, chief executive of the North West Development Agency, has welcomed the Government's draft Nuclear National Policy Statement today, which includes four North West sites earmarked for a new generation of nuclear power stations in the UK.
The Nuclear National Policy Statement will include the following sites:
- Braystones, Cumbria
- Sellafield, Cumbria
- Kirksanton, Cumbria
- Heysham, Lancashire
A delighted Steven Broomhead said: "The announcement comes just two weeks after a consortium purchased land earmarked for a new nuclear power station near Sellafield.
"Heysham in Lancashire is also being actively considered by potential investors and the NWDA will continue to work with all partners to support potential development of the site.
"Development of power stations in the North West will further the region's existing premier nuclear infrastructure which already accommodates 50% of the UK's civil nuclear workforce and the main centres for nuclear research.
"The potential for economic growth as a result of new nuclear is considerable and, with over 300 companies in the North West's nuclear supply chain, it is expected our businesses will play a leading role in the design, construction and operation of new nuclear power plants.
"The NWDA will continue to work closely and effectively with all regional and national partners to ensure the new sites are able to benefit the region as a whole. The Agency will also act as a statutory consultee on National Policy Statements and any projects which are brought forward within the region."
A consortium consisting of energy firms Iberdrola, GDF SUEZ, and Scottish & Southern Energy purchased the 470-acre site near Sellafield for £70m, which has been assigned for a possible nuclear power station.
It followed the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority's pledge in August that it would sell the site by the end of the year.
Brian Wilson, former Government energy minister and chair of Britain's Energy Coast West Cumbria, added: "The Government's list leaves no doubt that West Cumbria is at the heart of Britain's nuclear renaissance. This makes complete sense because the skills, experience and commitment to nuclear new-build are all here to be tapped.
"Momentum is clearly gathering behind the site next to Sellafield, and its inclusion in the draft list is another step towards securing a new power station which could be generating electricity by the early 2020s.
"All three of Cumbria's sites must be put under the microscope and opened up to consultation. But time is of the essence. It is now generally accepted that we need nuclear new-build and the only question is where to site it. We will continue to advocate the Sellafield site and look forward to it appearing in the final policy statement, which will be put to Parliament in March."
Roger Liddle, chairman of the county's strategic economic development agency Cumbria Vision, said: "Cumbria deserves to be at the centre of Britain's nuclear renaissance, having been the place where this important source of low carbon energy was first developed and subsequently flourished. As a key part, but not sum total, of the nation's and indeed Cumbria 's energy mix, it is important we continue to lead. Action is needed quickly if we are to tackle the challenges of climate change and energy security. Through our Energy Coast initiative, Cumbria has stepped forward to help address these, while at the same time building a new local economy which can be sustained for generations to come."
The Cumbria nomination for land to the north west of the Sellafield site was submitted by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority on the basis of detailed work by the local regeneration organisation, Britain's Energy Coast West Cumbria.
Iberdrola, GDF SUEZ and Scottish & Southern Energy, aim to start construction next to Sellafield around 2015.
The nominated sites at Braystones and Kirksanton are owned by RWE npower. The three nominations are separate.
Once the public consultation comes to an end on 22 February, Department for Energy and Climate Change will consider the responses before seeking Parliament's approval. The newly-created Infrastructure Planning Commission will then receive individual planning applications for new nuclear power stations at the agreed sites, starting the formal planning procedure.
The draft Nuclear National Policy Statement has been put together by the Department for Energy and Climate Change