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Toshiba to take steps to wind-up NuGen

The proposed new development at Moorside (Photo: NuGen)

Today, Thursday 8th November 2018, Toshiba announced its intention to withdraw from the nuclear power plant construction project in the UK, NuGeneration Limited (NuGen) and to take steps to wind-up the business.

The announcement comes after 18 months of negotiations with a range of potential new owners.

A NuGeneration Limited spokesman said: “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.”

Sue Hayman, Labour Member of Parliament for Workington and co-chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Nuclear Energy, commenting on the news that Toshiba is to wind down NuGen, said: “This is truly terrible news, not just for Cumbria, but for the UK as a whole. For months now, I have been calling on the Government to back Moorside in the way that they’ve given their backing to other new nuclear projects across the country. But today’s announcement makes it clear that the Government just does not care about the future of West Cumbria.

“The Government’s failure to offer support for the project has meant the loss of thousands of future jobs in West Cumbria, and that is utterly unacceptable. Quite simply, the people of West Cumbria have been betrayed by this Conservative government. They lied to us when they told us that they backed Moorside just to win the Copeland by-election. Unlike Labour, they failed to even mention nuclear in their 2017 election manifesto. They have ignored all of my calls to intervene to safeguard the future of the Moorside project. And now they have shamefully betrayed the people of West Cumbria.

“This week, in my role as co-chair of the all party group for nuclear energy, I’m in China meeting with senior representatives of China General Nuclear Power Group. I will be exploring whether they may be interested in taking an interest in the development of new nuclear power in West Cumbria in some shape or form. I will continue to fight for vital jobs and investment in West Cumbria, even if the Government has no interest in our community.

“NuGen’s chief executive Tom Samson has worked tirelessly to try to save Moorside, but at the end of the day the Government simply refused to help.”

Mike Starkie, Mayor of Copeland said: “Copeland is at the Centre of Nuclear Excellence and there are huge advantages to developing in an area that already has unparalleled capability in nuclear, and the ability to extract the value of existing investment makes this an attractive opportunity and a national asset.

“The news regarding NuGen is undoubtedly a setbeck for the Moorside project, and it is clear that the issues between Toshiba and Kepco can not be resolved.

“However, I firmly believe that this is not the end of the project, and the reasons why the project was initially conceived are still valid.

“The Moorside site can deliver seven per cent of the UK’s energy supply and support the Government’s commitments for a mix of energy and a reduction in the use of fossil fuels; that requirement has not changed.

“The site is still allocated for nuclear new-build, and is even more suitable now than at the outset of the project due to the preparatory work that has already been done.

“It is hugely frustrating that we continue to be hampered by delays and uncertainty. I call upon the Government to support Moorside and give the confidence investors need to work with us.

“The Government also needs to fully comprehend that the Copeland community is an incredibly valuable asset and it simply cannot afford that goodwill to depreciate. For decades our people have stood full square behind numerous governments in full support of their nuclear ambitions and we expect that support to be reciprocated. The Copeland community should not be taken for granted.

“I am still confident however that a solution will be found to move the Moorside project forward. Copeland Council is firmly committed to supporting the development of the site for a new nuclear power station, and we’ll be lobbying the Government hard to get its financial muscle behind it the site by underpinning the development, to give it some traction and to build on the progress that has already been made

“The Copeland economy is facing both challenges and opportunities to harness the value of hosting the Sellafield site and deliver the Government’s Industrial Strategy. As we approach the end of reprocessing at Sellafield, we are already working hard with Sellafield Ltd and other partners to reconfigure the local economy.

“Moorside is of huge importance to Copeland but we cannot lose sight of the opportunities that already exist to broaden our economy. This requires a new and progressive conversation and action from Government and the NDA to step up to the plate and get 100 per cent behind the Sellafield transformation; that would kick start an immediate positive impact on our local economy.

“This is not a time for party political point scoring, it is a time for all in public office at all levels to work together in the best interests of our economy and community.”

GMB, the energy union, has said the Government has ‘blood on its hands’ following the collapse of Moorside build.

GMB said the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority needs to be scrapped as it currently exists and a re-tasked Nuclear Development Agency created to make sure Moorside, and the accompanying creation of thousands of new jobs and apprenticeships, goes ahead.

The planned NuGen plant in Moorside, Cumbria, has been in crisis since financial problems emerged in 2016 at the owner, Toshiba, and its nuclear subsidiary Westinghouse Electric filed for bankruptcy protection.

GMB has long argued the Government should take a stake in the financing of the troubled £10 billion Moorside nuclear reactor – rather than leaving this vital project at the mercy of foreign companies. [2]

The Moorside rector in Cumbria was set to have been delivering 7% of the UK’s electricity needs from 2025.

For the 12 months from 7 March 2017, every one in 5.6 days was a low wind day (65 days in total) when the output of the installed and connected wind turbines in the UK produced less than 10% of their installed and connected capacity for more than half of the day. For 341 days in the year, solar output was below 10% of installed capacity for more than half of the day.

Justin Bowden, GMB National Secretary, 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.

“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 (NDA) 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.”

The withdrawal of Toshiba from the Moorside nuclear power station project is ‘a cruel blow’ to the north west economy on which thousands of future jobs are depending, Unite the union said today (Thursday 8 November).

Unite said the government had a major responsibility for Toshiba’s decision to wind up its NuGen business, which was behind the Cumbrian plant’s construction, because ministers had adopted ‘a hands off ’ approach to UK energy policy.

Unite regional secretary for the north west 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, literally, 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.

“Unite will be seeking an urgent meeting with business secretary Greg Clark to chart a way forward to see what can be done to get this project kick-started again.

“In an increasingly uncertain and dangerous world, there needs to be a joined-up UK energy strategy for the decades ahead to keep the lights on and the wheels of industry turning.”

Rob Johnston, Chief Executive of Cumbria Chamber of Commerce, said: “The Koreans felt this regulated asset base model wouldn’t give them a good enough rate of return.

“We’ve argued consistently that the best way to fund new nuclear power generation is for the Government to invest as a partner alongside the private sector.

“That reduces the risk and so makes the electricity generated cheaper, and it should bring a long-term return for taxpayers.

“The Government is taking a substantial stake, around £5bn, in Hitachi’s Horizon nuclear new build project in Wales.

“But they won’t consider direct investment in Moorside. Why not? Why is Wales a special case but not Cumbria?”

He added: “It’s negligent of ministers to allow the Moorside project to collapse.

“This is a setback for Cumbria. Moorside would have created peak on-site employment for 6,000 people during construction and 1,000 well-paid permanent jobs once operational.

“It also strengthened the case for much-needed investment in Cumbria’s road and rail infrastructure.

“But if this is bad news for Cumbria, it’s a disaster for the UK’s energy security.

“Moorside would have generated 7% of the nation’s electricity, replacing older power plants coming to the end of their life.

“Demand for electricity is going to soar with the roll-out of electric vehicles. National Grid estimates that generating capacity will have to rise by at least 80% by 2050.

“That demand can’t be met without nuclear new build.

“The demise of NuGen is a missed opportunity but Moorside is still a designated site for a nuclear power station.

“The Government must go back to the drawing board to find a new developer to take it on and ministers must come with a better funding model to make it happen.”

Barrow and Furness MP John Woodcock said: “The move to wind up NuGen is terrible news for the Cumbrian economy and for the country. The government must answer for why it has refused to offer sufficient incentives to keep the deal alive and what it will now do to plug the massive holes in the regional economy and national energy security.

“This cannot be allowed to be the last word on a vital project that has been over a decade in the making – local MPs will be demanding answers from the government when parliament returns on Monday.”

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