Plans to develop unique small nuclear reactors in Cumbria by Rolls-Royce should not be seen as a "saviour of the county", one of its major rivals said.

in-Cumbria exclusively revealed in November that a consortium, led by the engineering giant, was focusing its efforts on efforts on developing its emerging Small Modular Reactors at existing nuclear licensed sites – with Cumbria and Wales its top targets.

But John Coughlan, chief executive of TSP Engineering, based in Workington, said he was concerned that people would think the plans would prompt people to think thousands of jobs would be created.

TSP Engineering is also developing its own version of the technology, and while Mr Coughlan acknowledged that they were rivals and that was a factor in him speaking out, he was also passionate about the local community.

He said: "Make no mistake. When Rolls-Royce talk about developing their reactors in Cumbria, they are talking about a construction site.

"If they get the go-ahead for Cumbria, the reactors will be shipped in from elsewhere and built on the site.

So you are probably looking at a large number of short-term construction jobs - say 1,000 - then only about 60 to 100 people with a permanent position there.

"We have a real opportunity here to make a difference to the community in West Cumbria – our LeadCold reactors would be manufactured in Workington, creating long-term jobs and there would also be spin-offs for the port and associated industries and the supply chain across Cumbria.

"We are both at about the same stage of development so when it comes to the time to make a decision, we are hopeful we will be firmly in the frame."

In July the Government said it will invest up to £18 million to support the design of the UK-made mini nuclear power stations.

At the end of last year, Copeland MP Trudy Harrison and Copeland Borough Council vowed to up the ante on lobbying the Government to push for SMRs to be developed in Copeland, following the demise of plans for a large-scale nuclear power station at the Moorside site.

The consortium's SMRs are roughly the size of a one-and-a-half football pitches, can be constructed off site before installation and are cheaper to manufacture than their large-scale equivalents.

TSP Engineering, based at Derwent Howe, is at the prototype stage of its reactors.

If they go into production, they would be built at its facility and would be sold around the world to countries looking to develop the next generation of nuclear energy.

Mr Coughlan added: “This is a game-changer, a chance to be a disruptor in the marketplace and to breathe new life into Cumbria and West Cumbria in particular.

"We estimate we would create around 1,000 jobs, which would be long-term.

"Our reactors are smaller than Rolls-Royce's reactors, but because they are modular they can be added to on site.

“Plus, the market for nuclear energy will change. It will go from energy firms like EDF to firms like BP and Shell as electric vehicles begin to become more popular and more people swap their existing vehicles for ones with cleaner energy.

“It is so important that the UK gets behind this – this will change the international landscape and international sales could be numerous.

"We have the potential to make hundreds of these reactors.

"We have a licensed site on our doorstep at Sellafield.

"We need to take advantage of that. What could be better than using the expertise we have here in Workington and the wider region of Cumbria by installing the first operational advanced modular nuclear reactors at a Sellafield site? It makes sense.”

TSP Engineering is a wholly-owned subsidiary of British Steel.It operates as a standalone and independent company and was not affected when British Steel was put into compulsory liquidation last May after talks between its owner Greybull Capital and the Government stalled.