The Government's inclusion of land near to Sellafield as a suitable site for a new nuclear power station has been welcomed by partners behind the Britain's Energy Coast initiative in Cumbria.
The site is one of eight included in the Government's revised draft national policy statement for nuclear power generation.
Nominations submitted by RWE npower for land at Braystones and Kirksanton have not been included in the list, published by the Department for Energy and Climate Change.
Partners in Cumbria said the nomination of the Sellafield site is key to the Britain's Energy Coast initiative, which aims to establish West Cumbria and Furness as a nationally significant generator of low carbon and renewable energy.
The nomination was led by regeneration body Britain's Energy Coast West Cumbria, working alongside partners such as Invest in Cumbria, making it the only nomination made by an area partnership rather than a utility company.
Last year a consortium comprising of energy firms Iberdrola, GDF SUEZ and Scottish & Southern Energy bought the site from owners, the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, with an aim to start construction of a new power station around 2015.
Brian Wilson, former Government energy minister and chairman of Britain's Energy Coast West Cumbria, said: "The inclusion of the site next to Sellafield in this latest list is great news for the Energy Coast initiative. In leading the nomination for the site we have always been confident of the suitability of the site to host at least one, if not more, reactors. Given our world-class workforce and extensive supply chain West Cumbria should be part of Britain's nuclear renaissance. We are now hopeful decisions remain within set timescales allowing construction to start as soon as possible so a new power station to be generating energy by 2025."
Doubts about the ability of the Kirksanton and Braystones sites to contribute to new nuclear capacity before 2025 and concerns about the visual impact on the Lake District National Park were cited by the Department for Energy and Climate Change as the major reasons for them failing to make the revised list.
Wilson added: "The crucial thing is that West Cumbria has a nominated site in this new list, and we must now concentrate all our efforts on ensuring that our hopes are turned into reality at the Sellafield site. The decision to drop the other two does not come as a surprise. It was clear the communities in Braystones and Kirksanton were opposed to new build near their villages and the decision to remove them will bring great relief. It also demonstrates the tough challenge we face in balancing the nation's need for energy and Cumbria's need to build a sustainable economy, with the need to protect our world-renowned landscape."
A new round of consultation led by the Department for Energy and Climate Change will close on Monday 24 January 2011, with the aim of finalising the list, subject to consultation and Parliamentary scrutiny, in spring 2011.
The partners behind the nomination of land adjacent to Sellafield includes Britain's Energy Coast West Cumbria, Invest in Cumbria, Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, Cumbria County Council, Allerdale Council, Copeland Council, Sellafield, Cumbria Vision and the North West Development Agency.
Britain's Energy Coast initiative aims to establish the boroughs of Copeland, Allerdale and Furness as major generators of low carbon and renewable energy. The initiative includes the construction of a least one new nuclear power station and improvements in grid transmission, infrastructure, education, hospitals, skills and enterprise as well as the development of other renewable and low carbon energy sources.