The former chairman of Crossrail and HS2 will head up an advisory board for CGN UK – the nuclear power station developer which described Moorside in West Cumbria as a “smart site”.

Sir Terry Morgan hit the national headlines last year, predicting that he would be sacked as chairman of the two major rail infrastructure projects amid growing criticism due to delays and cost overruns, before ultimately resigning in December.

He has now become chairman of a new advisory board at CGN UK – the subsidiary of Chinese-state owned China General Nuclear. Former civil servant Sir Brian Bender – who served as a permanent secretary at the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food and the Department of Trade and Industry – joins Sir Morgan on the board.

CGN UK says the advisory board will include “leading British figures with huge experience of delivering major infrastructure projects and of working at the highest echelons of government”. It will provide impartial advice to CGN UK’s senior management on taking forward its plans to invest in new nuclear as well as renewables, said the company. 

CGN UK’s chief executive, Zheng Dongshan, said: “Appointing an Advisory Board is an important step in the process of CGN investing in new energy projects in the UK. 

“Having people of the calibre of Sir Terry and Sir Brian, and their future colleagues, as a sounding board will help us to ensure that we take even closer account of our stakeholders and are able to answer whatever questions they may raise.

“And the Advisory Board will help us deliver a legacy of long-term partnerships including with local communities, as well as skills and high value jobs.”

The new advisory board has been established as CGN UK eyes a bigger role in the UK’s nuclear renaissance – an admission it made at the Nuclear Industry Association’s Nuclear 2018 conference in December.

It is already involved in four joint venture projects with EDF, including the under-construction Hinkley Point C power station in Somerset, along with plans for Sizewell C, Suffolk and Bradwell B, Essex. CNG UK is currently taking its the HPR1000 reactor design through the Generic Design Assessment process with the aim of constructing them at Bradwell B.

CNG originally lost out to Korean state-owned utility Kepco as preferred bidder for NuGen, which planned to build a new £15 billion power station at the Moorside site in West Cumbria.

It is understood to have held discussions with NuGen’s owner Toshiba before it decided to wind up its UK-based development arm in November last year due to the lack of progress being made in finding a buyer.

When asked by in-Cumbria if CNG UK was interested in taking on Moorside, its chief operating officer Rob Davies described it as a “very smart” site, hinting that its interest in developing in West Cumbria had not ended.

However, he added that the company was focusing its efforts on bringing Bradwell B forward to fill the gap left by the collapse of NuGen’s plans for the site located just north of Sellafield.

Speaking at the Nuclear 2018 conference, Mr Davies described CNG as “the world’s biggest new build developer” and revealed it had already invested £2.4bn in the UK.

Since the conference, the UK’s nuclear new build plans have been dealt a further blow after Japanese giant Hitachi suspended work on new power stations at Wylfa Newydd in Anglesey and Oldbury, Gloucestershire after talks with the Government on financial support for the projects broke down.

Meanwhile, concerns are growing over an “energy gap” as existing nuclear power stations, credited with providing the UK with a significant baseload supply of electricity, edge closer to being decommissioned.