A consortium has purchased land earmarked for a new nuclear power station near Sellafield today, following the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority's pledge in August that it would sell the site by the end of the year.
At the time, Cumbria Vision and West Cumbria urged the NDA to make a quick sale, so it would enable electricity to be generated by 2025.
In March 2009, the land just to the north of the existing Sellafield facility was nominated as a site for a new nuclear power station as part of 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 over the next 20 years. It was the only nomination out of the eleven submitted to Government which was prepared by an area partnership rather than a utility company.
The consortium, comprising of British, Spanish and French companies, will now progress to the next stage of the nuclear new build process after completing the purchase of NDA-owned land just north of the existing Sellafield site. They aim to begin construction of the new power station in 2015.
West Cumbria Vision, the local regeneration organisation, has led on the nomination of the site and assisted the NDA in the marketing of it to potential buyers.
Brian Wilson, former Government energy minister and chair of the West Cumbria Vision, said: "This is the news West Cumbria has been waiting for and paves the way for thousands of jobs in the construction phase and many highly skilled posts long into the future. The purchase of this prime site is a significant milestone in our goal to have a new nuclear power station generating electricity by around 2021 and a strong indication of the confidence of major players in the global energy industry to invest in West Cumbria.
"Together with our cutting-edge skills, research and infrastructure programmes, this makes West Cumbria the most attractive place for a wide range of energy investment opportunities in Britain."
The consortium included the following energy firms:
- GDF SUEZ
- Scottish & Southern Energy
Roger Liddle, chairman of Cumbria Vision, added: "New nuclear power is a key to unlocking £140bn worth of energy and related business opportunities in Cumbria, which in turn will create thousands of skilled and well paid jobs and stimulate investment in projects to help make this area a superb place to live as well as work. The importance of the land sale cannot be overemphasised. Considering Cumbria did not feature in Britain's plans for a nuclear renaissance two years ago, today's achievement demonstrates how a wide range of partners can combine their efforts to achieve a common local and national goal."
The North West Development Agency has funded West Cumbria Vision-led push to build the case for nuclear new build at the site and expects to invest around £50m over the next three to four years in Energy Coast-related projects.
Steven Broomhead, chief executive of North West Development Agency, commented: "The NWDA welcomes today's announcement. For over 60 years the North West has been widely recognised as the UK's premier location for nuclear infrastructure and is home to 50% of the UK's civil nuclear workforce, an excellent research base and internationally recognised technical ability across all areas. The NWDA will continue to work closely and effectively with all partners, to ensure the delivery of a new power station in West Cumbria, maximising benefits not only for the local community, but England's North West as a whole."
The land adjacent to Sellafield is one of eleven sites currently going through the Government's nomination process.
RWE npower has also submitted two sites in West Cumbria through the Strategic Siting Assessment process, which includes one at Braystones near Sellafield and the other at Kirksanton near Millom. The final list of sites is to be published shortly and partners are confident the land at Sellafield will be among those going forward to the public consultation phase, which is expected to start in the winter.
The land bought by the consortium comprises 470 acres and cost around £70m.
The sale will result in an upfront payment of £19.5m for the NDA, followed by a further payment of at least £50.5m in the next six years.
The Consortium will now progress with detailed site investigations to determine the exact location for its proposed nuclear development and then apply for the necessary planning and licensing permissions. Land surplus to requirements will be returned to the NDA.