Four big players in the nuclear industry have been unveiled as the preferred bidders to lead a new 20-year partnership that aims to “revolutionise” the decommissioning of the Sellafield site.

Morgan Sindall Construction and Infrastructure Ltd, Wood Nuclear Limited on Design, Doosan Babcock Ltd and Kellogg Brown and Root Ltd have been selected to lead the Programme and Project Partners (PPP), a long-term approach to delivering the West Cumbria nuclear site’s hugely complex clean-up programme.

Sellafield Limited said the PPP model is designed to improve the speed and effectiveness of project delivery and bring greater stability in the design and construction supply chains.

It will also bring greater workforce stability and help boost the economic economy, it added.

The partnership is split in to four lots.

Morgan Sindall Construction and Infrastructure Ltd will lead on Civils Construction Management; Wood Nuclear Limited on Design and Engineering; Doosan Babcock Ltd, Process Construction Management and Kellogg Brown and Root Ltd on Integration.

The four will cascade work down to supply chain companies, with hopes high that the majority will go to businesses based in Cumbria.

Martin Chown, Sellafield Ltd supply chain director, described the PPP as a “major step-change” in the way major projects are delivered on the site.

The new model, he said, will support the transformation of Sellafield Ltd from a nuclear operator to a “world-leader in environmental remediation”.

“It will revolutionise our relationship with the supply chain and ensure projects are delivered safely, quickly, and cost effectively,” said Mr Chown.

“The new approach will provide 20 years of sustainable employment in the design and construction supply chain and enhance the skills of the workforce.

“The Programme and Project Partners is fundamental to our aspiration to develop and maintain internationally respected centres of nuclear expertise in our local communities.”

The announcement, and new approach, was welcomed by business membership organisation Britain’s Energy Coast Business Cluster (BECBC).

Its stakeholder relations director John Grainger said it presented a “tremendous” opportunity to supply chain companies, many of who can be found among its 300 plus members.

“Far from closing the market to the inherent Supply Chain this is a tremendous opportunity to supply for our members,” said Mr Grainger.

“This is a 20-year framework, so it is a genuine long-term programme of work. Sellafield Ltd’s Supply Chain Development Team shared with us recently the way that the four different lots will be cascaded down.

“The trade packages as part of the PPP scheme, show an open and transparent approach to how Sellafield Ltd will use large and small suppliers to deliver their mission. We look forward to early engagement with Lot winners to maximise the opportunity for our members in the Supply Chain.”

Mr Grainger, the former managing director of inward investment agency Invest in Cumbria, said the PPP announcement “rounded off” a significant month for new initiatives in Cumbria.

“I am particularly delighted that in these uncertain times as far as the UK economy is concerned that there has been so much positive news that benefits the economy of Cumbria,” he said.

“Business thrives on confidence and the Borderlands Growth Deal; the St Cuthbert’s Garden Village scheme, with the new southern bypass at Carlisle; a firm date for commercial flights from Carlisle Lake District Airport; and this (the PPP) multi-million-pound long-term programme, are just the sort of positive indicators we have all been working towards. 

“But it won’t stop there. With innovation and clean growth technologies high on the list of our ambitions, there is a fresh impetus in Cumbria.

“Reinforced by these positive schemes that can only demonstrate that this is a genuinely investable community that will attract further inward investment.”

The announcement was also welcomed by Copeland mayor Mike Starkie and Copeland MP Trudy Harrison.

In a joint statement they said: “The announcement marks a key milestone in Sellafield’s transformation programme and will fundamentally change the way that major projects are procured and delivered on the site, with a move towards outcome based contracting and a high degree of collaboration between the preferred bidders and the wider supply chain. 

“UK Government’s approval of this framework demonstrates confidence in the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority and Sellafield Ltd to continue their world-leading work to overcome the complex and unique nuclear decommissioning challenges on the site.

“This new framework offers great opportunity for us to work together with Sellafield Ltd and the preferred bidders to ensure extraction of maximum value from the Sellafield site, to deliver value to the taxpayer and to help to diversify and enhance the resilience of the local economy. 

“This is of particular importance during the transformation of the Sellafield site as reprocessing operations end by 2020 and the company’s mission moves towards decommissioning and environmental remediation. 

“There are associated opportunities for the new framework partners to make a positive impact on the local workforce, skills and education landscape and to help to deliver the targets set out in the Nuclear Sector Deal under the UK’s Industrial Strategy.

“We look forward to building strong, productive and lasting relationships with the PPP team to realise our shared ambitions for our economy and community.”