Fears that a deal to build a £15bn nuclear power plant in West Cumbria has stalled have prompted urgent calls for the Government to step in.

Unions say there needs to be clarity on the future of the Moorside project - and the thousands of jobs it is expected to bring to the county.

The Toshiba-owned NuGen consortium is behind plans for Moorside, on land next to Sellafield.

Talks were under way for NuGen to be sold to Korean utility firm Kepco, but yesterday Toshiba confirmed that Kepco had been stripped of its preferred bidder status, awarded in December.

It says it is considering all options for the sale.

It comes just days after NuGen was forced to enter into consultation with its 100 staff, as it undergoes a company restructure due to the "prolonged time" the negotiations are taking.

It is understood Kepco officials flew into Britain earlier this week to talk to NuGen representatives and the Government about the Moorside deal.

Unions and MPs are calling for the Government to step in to make sure the deal progresses.

Steve Nicholson, of Sellafield Workers' Campaign, said: “We call upon the Government to support the building of the Moorside project by underwriting the new build.

"The Government must take a public stake to ensure this vital power station is finally built, guaranteeing the creation of thousands of highly-skilled and well-paid jobs that communities in Cumbria need and deserve.

"The Government has so far refused to heed calls to step in and underwrite Moorside.

"This policy should be reversed to ensure the longevity of this project. The drift and delay with this vitally necessary project is not in our local or national interests."

Justin Bowden, GMB national secretary, said: "As well as eradicating the uncertainty, by the Government taking a stake and taking control at Moorside, the price to consumers will be greatly reduced, making good all round sense.

“West Cumbria vitally needs Moorside and the accompanying creation of thousands of new jobs and apprenticeships."

Peter McIntosh, Unite acting national officer for energy, added: “We are seeking a meeting with business secretary Greg Clark to flesh out the details of the Government’s approach.

"It is vital for the Cumbrian economy in the decades ahead that we have crystal clear clarity on the future of this project.

“Thousands of highly skilled jobs in construction and operations, once it is up and running, are dependent on this going ahead in a timely fashion. It will be a powerhouse, literally, for the regional economy."

Cumbrian MPs have also urged the UK Government to step in to help with the deal.

Conservative Copeland MP Trudy Harrison said: "It is now time for Government to get a grip on our energy policy. In Cumbria we have the skills and experience.”

Mrs Harrison is setting up a Moorside strategic partnership, with representatives from Sellafield, Cumbria LEP and councils.

Barrow MP John Woodcock said: “The Government must not allow the lights to go out in West Cumbria and has to stand by the development of new civil nuclear build in West Cumbria.

“It will be utterly disastrous to allow the prospect of nuclear new build to go by the wayside."

Carlisle MP John Stevenson, who will host the Cumbria Nuclear Conference on September 21, said: "I have long felt the Government needs to take a more proactive role in Moorside.

"They are willing to step in at Wylfa and should do so, possibly in a different way, here.

“Moorside is significant to Cumbria and the UK’s energy supply."

Sue Hayman, Workington MP, has written to the Government to ask them to act immediately over NuGen.

Mrs Hayman, co-chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Nuclear Energy, said: "The Government must act now or it will be too late, and Cumbria will not get the 20,000 jobs, economic investment and infrastructure improvements that depend on Moorside."


In early 2017 Westinghouse – the then subsidiary of Toshiba which was due to supply three AP1000 reactors to Moorside – filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the USA.

This led French firm Engie, which formerly held a minority stake in NuGen, to trigger shareholder agreements which forced Toshiba to take full control.

As a result Toshiba, which has since sold Westinghouse for £3bn, pursued the sale of some, if not all, of its stake in NuGen, revealing Kepco as its preferred bidder following reported discussions with China General Nuclear Power Corporation.