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Blow to Moorside power station plans as Toshiba winds up nuclear arm

NuGen said the announcement came after 18 months of negotiations with a range of potential new owners.

Toshiba is to wind up its nuclear arm, which was leading a project to build a new power station in the UK.

The decision by the Japanese firm’s board is a huge blow to plans for a new nuclear plant at Moorside in Cumbria.

Unions attacked the Government for not intervening to ensure the project went ahead.

Toshiba said its NuGen business would start being wound up in the new year.

A statement from Tokyo said: “After considering the additional costs entailed in continuing to operate NuGen, Toshiba recognises that the economically rational decision is to withdraw from the UK nuclear power plant construction project, and has resolved to take steps to wind up NuGen.”

NuGen said the announcement came after 18 months of negotiations with a range of potential new owners.

Unfortunately, it has not been possible to successfully conclude those negotiations NuGen

“Unfortunately, it has not been possible to successfully conclude those negotiations.

“NuGen has retained a team to support the implementation of a winding-up process and will work with Toshiba and its other stakeholders.

“Whilst NuGen will not be taking the project forward, the Moorside site in Cumbria remains a site designated by Government for nuclear new build, and it is now for the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority as the owner of the site and the Government to determine its future.

“NuGen would like to pay tribute to colleagues, its shareholder, Toshiba, and to the other stakeholders, and many various friends of the project both in Cumbria and beyond, who have supported NuGen’s efforts through its development phase and throughout the proposed sale negotiations.”

Justin Bowden, national officer of the GMB union, said: “The British Government has blood on its hands as the final sad but predictable nail is banged into the coffin of Toshiba’s jinxed jaunt into nuclear power.

Relying in this way on foreign companies for our country’s essential energy needs was always irresponsible GMB

“Relying in this way on foreign companies for our country’s essential energy needs was always irresponsible.

“Add to that the multiple opportunities to step in and take control, that were missed or ignored.

“In the wreckage that passes for a joined-up UK energy policy, the question now is whether Government has finally learned the mistakes of Moorside?

“A new nuclear power station in West Cumbria remains vital for the UK’s future energy security and requires urgent action.

“The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority must be immediately given a role for nuclear development and tasked with developing a small modular nuclear reactor (SMR) on site, tapping into the wealth of nuclear experience and expertise in the area and ensuring we have security of supply in years to come.”

A Business Department spokesman said: “We understand that Toshiba have faced a difficult decision in ending their involvement in new nuclear projects outside of Japan in light of their well-known financial challenges.

“All proposed new nuclear projects in the UK are led by private sector developers and while the Government has engaged regularly with the companies involved, this is entirely a commercial decision for Toshiba.

“Nuclear has an important role to play as part of the UK’s diverse energy mix as we transition to a low-carbon economy, but in each case projects must provide value for money for consumers and taxpayers.

“This Government remains committed to new nuclear through the Industrial Strategy Nuclear Sector Deal as well as consenting the first new nuclear power station in a generation at Hinkley Point C.”

The end of the Moorside plan represents a failure of the Government’s nuclear gamble Greenpeace

Greenpeace UK executive director John Sauven said: “The end of the Moorside plan represents a failure of the Government’s nuclear gamble.

“Their flawed approach to making our economy low carbon has dashed the hopes of prospective workers and businesses in Cumbria that should have been centred around renewable technologies.

“The Government now needs to rapidly deploy renewable energy to fill the gap.

“That means restarting onshore wind, a new deal for expanding solar power, and upping ambition on more offshore wind.”

Sue Ferns, senior deputy general secretary of Prospect union, said: “This is devastating news for Cumbria and the wider energy sector.

“The nuclear industry and wider supply chain currently employ thousands of people in the north west of England. The long term future of this could be on the line if we can’t move forward with building Moorside.

“Government has ultimate responsibility for ensuring a secure and stable supply of energy throughout the UK. The truth is that ministers have dithered and delayed for far too long. We now need urgent action.

“Our analysis shows that if the Government were to take a 50% stake then there would be a net benefit to the public purse, so there really is no excuse not to.

“We have a huge skills base in this country which is at risk. For the sake of jobs, skills, growth and security of supply it is vital that the Government now gets a grip on the future of this industry.”

Rebecca Long Bailey, shadow business secretary, said: “Nuclear energy has an important role in the energy mix as we seek to rapidly decarbonise our energy system. That is why Labour has been consistent in its support for Moorside, calling on the Government to take a public stake.

“Today’s announcement by Toshiba is hugely concerning for the future of the sector and the thousands of jobs it would bring to Cumbria. Unfortunately, it’s not surprising given the Government’s long indecision and refusal to step in.”

Moorside could be a powerhouse for the regional economy ... This is another example of the Government’s chaotic attitude to policy-making Ritchie James, Unite

Unite union official Ritchie James said: “Today’s news is a cruel blow to the prospects for the North West economy and the future of thousands of highly-skilled jobs in construction and operations, once it was up and running.

“It is our view that it is not too late to revive this project, but it needs the active engagement of Government, including the commitment of public money.

“Moorside could be a powerhouse for the regional economy, and we will work with other stakeholders, such as local authorities, to see that this project eventually comes to fruition.

“The hands-off attitude of the Government has been the elephant in the room and today this ‘one step removed’ approach has come home to roost. This is another example of the Government’s chaotic attitude to policy-making.”

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