Scheme in doubt

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Opinion

Plans for a new nuclear power station in Cumbria are moving closer to collapse. Nugen, owned by Toshiba, the troubled Japanese conglomerate, is laying off 60% of the staff involved with developing its Moorside plant.  If no buyer is found before January, then the venture is likely to be abandoned altogether. 

The Moorside scheme, neighbouring the Sellafield atomic waste site on the Cumbrian coast, has been in doubt since early last year, when financial problems engulfed Toshiba. A mooted sale to Kepco, the South Korean utility, stalled amid political change in South Korea plus a British government rethink of the financial support on offer for nuclear plants, after widespread criticism of the high costs of Hinkley Point.

Nugen was founded in 2009. Toshiba bought into it in 2014 with the aim of deploying reactors made by its Westinghouse subsidiary. However, Westinghouse suffered huge cost overruns building reactors in the United States, which led to it filing for bankruptcy protection and then being sold off last year. 

With electricity sales falling consistently each year this century, this debacle is , as the GMB union told the Times, “depressingly predictable.”