Calls are growing for the Government to step up and secure a new developer to build a nuclear power plant on the Moorside site.

The land next to Sellafield is still earmarked as a site for energy generation, and key industry players believe the demise of NuGen and its Moorside power plant plans does not have to spell the end of Cumbria’s nuclear new build ambitions.

Tom Greatrex, chief executive of the Nuclear Industry Association (NIA) described the NuGen wind-up as sad news but said the huge local support in Cumbria for the project only demonstrated the need for a development to take place.

“It is vital Government facilitates the build of new nuclear on the site for the sake of the energy security of the UK and for the local economy in Cumbria,” he said.

“With all but one of the UK’s nuclear power plants due to come offline before 2030, there’s an urgent need for new nuclear to be built quickly, and the Moorside site has a key role to play in this.”

Ivan Baldwin, chair of membership organisation Britain’s Energy Coast Business Cluster, said the site “remains a particularly competitive” for siting a nuclear energy reactor.

The calls were made as it emerged West Cumbrian MPs Trudy Harrison and Sue Hayman are currently in China, meeting with the Chinese state-backed firm China General Nuclear Power Group (CGN).

CGN missed out to Kepco in the race for “preferred bidder” status to buy NuGen last year and are understood to have held talks with Toshiba recently after it widened its discussions to other potential investors.

CGN is already involved in the under-construction Hinkley Point C power station in Somerset, the planned Bradwell B power station in Essex and is understood to have held early discussions to buy a stake in the eight nuclear UK power stations operated by EDF Energy.

However, the Government has expressed concerns about China’s involvement in critical infrastructure projects and any future overseas investment in such projects must pass a national security test.

Meanwhile, other leading figures believe Moorside could be ripe for a more modest nuclear development in the shape of Small Modular Reactors (SMR) – which are much smaller than conventional reactors and can be manufactured at a facility before being brought to a site to be fully constructed.

Northern Powerhouse Partnership director Henri Murison demanded greater certainty for private investors and greater commitment to developing SMRs across the North.

And while Cumbria Chamber of Commerce believes SMRs should be complementary and not a replacement for large power stations, the GMB union believes the Moorside site is ripe for such a development.

The union has called for the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority to be scrapped and replaced by a newly-created Nuclear Development Agency, which would them be tasked with developing an SMR at the site.

"A new nuclear power station in West Cumbria remains vital for the UK’s future energy security and requires urgent action,” said its national secretary Jim Bowden.

“We need to tap into the wealth of nuclear experience and expertise in the area and ensuring we have security of supply in years to come.”