Union calls for Government action on nuclear scheme

An artist impression of an AP 1000 reactor - the kind which would have been used at Moorside
An artist impression of an AP 1000 reactor - the kind which would have been used at Moorside

A major union has called on the Government to step in and take control of a “stuttering” £10bn nuclear energy project which could safeguard 1000 jobs in Lancashire.

GMB’s call comes after a bid by Chinese state-backed nuclear company CGN for a stake in the Moorside power station scheme which would have fuel supplied by Westinghouse’s Springfields plant at Salwick.

The union says the China money is not the solution to the problems Moorside scheme has faced – Toshiba’s US arm Westinghouse, which is producing reactors for Moorside, going bust which led to Toshiba chairman Shigenori Shiga stepping down and French investors Engie quitting the deal.

Justin Bowden, GMB national secretary, said: “Britain vitally needs a new fleet of nuclear power stations to replace the existing ageing fleet and ensure we have zero carbon electricity that is not reliant on the sun shining or the wind blowing.

"Moorside is an integral part of guaranteeing the UK’s future domestic and industry energy needs into the next decade and beyond.

“Keeping the lights on and powering our industries is a state function and this makes the UK government the lender of last resort.

“Most members of the public will be looking on in continued bewilderment at the financing pantomime surrounding Moorside and asking why on earth the UK government hasn’t stepped in rather than touting around the world looking for another government to take over a responsibility that ultimately rests with it?

“The UK civil nuclear industry was once the envy of the world; going cap in hand to the Chinese, Koreans or whoever is not the solution when Moorside and new nuclear should be a key cornerstone of government-led UK industrial strategy going forward.

“The UK government cannot keep pretending to be a passive spectator.”

Under the original scheme for three reactors, Westinghouse would have used its AP 1000 reactors on the site near Sellafield with the fuel being made at Springfields.