Toshiba scraps Cumbria nuclear plant; S Korea may bid

Japan’s Toshiba Corp said on Thursday it would cancel the £10 billion Moorside nuclear plant on the Cumbria coast after failing to find an investment partner — but South Korea indicated it was still interested in building a reactor at the site, Reuters reported.

The Moorside project was expected to provide around 7% of Britain’s electricity but has faced growing uncertainty since Toshiba’s nuclear arm Westinghouse went bankrupt last year.

“Whilst NuGen will not be taking the project forward, the Moorside site in Cumbria remains a site designated by government for nuclear new build,” NuGen, Toshiba’s business in Britain, said in a statement.

“It is now for the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority as the owner of the site and the government to determine its future.”

South Korea’s Korea Electric Power Corp (KEPCO) had been a preferred bidder but lost that status in July as delays to concluding a deal dragged on.

South Korea’s energy ministry told Reuters however it would talk with the UK government.

“The ministry plans to closely coordinate with the British government on the Moorside project while monitoring the NuGen liquidation process with KEPCO,” Korea’s Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy said in a statement.

The UK union Unite said the withdrawal of Toshiba from the Moorside project is “a cruel blow” to the north west of England’s economy.

Unite regional secretary for the north west Ritchie James said: “Today’s news is a cruel blow to the prospects for the north west economy and the future of thousands of highly skilled jobs in construction and operations, once it was up and running.

“It is our view that it is not too late to revive this project, but it needs the active engagement of government, including the commitment of public money.

“Moorside could be a powerhouse, literally, for the regional economy, and we will work with other stakeholders, such as local authorities, to see that this project eventually comes to fruition.

“The hands off attitude of the government has been the elephant in the room and today this ‘one step removed’ approach has come home to roost.

“This is another example of the government’s chaotic attitude to policy making.

“Unite will be seeking an urgent meeting with business secretary Greg Clark to chart a way forward to see what can be done to get this project kick-started again.

“In an increasingly uncertain and dangerous world, there needs to be a joined-up UK energy strategy for the decades ahead to keep the lights on and the wheels of industry turning.”