Exclusive: NuGen CEO certain Moorside nuclear development will go ahead

Tom Samson. Credit: ITV Border

The Moorside nuclear project is "110 per cent" certain to go ahead, the Chief Executive of NuGen has told ITV Border.

In an exclusive interview, Tom Samson admitted there are "significant challenges" with the multi-billion-pound development, but said he was confident they can be overcome.

NuGen is owned by the giant Japanese conglomerate Toshiba, which is facing major financial difficulties in Japan and the US.

ITV Border's Katie Hunter asked Mr Samson about Toshiba's position, whether government support is needed, and whether or not he is "100 per cent sure" Moorside will go ahead.

  • What is at stake?

The Moorside nuclear development would consist of three reactors, and would be built on land in West Cumbria, near the existing Sellafield nuclear site.

It would be Europe's largest new nuclear project, so is significant for Cumbria, the UK and the international civil nuclear community.

It had been hoped the reactors would begin operating in 2024, and would generate enough low-carbon electricity to power up to six-million homes, providing around seven per cent of the UK's electricity.

It has also been claimed that Moorside could create thousands of jobs in Cumbria and further afield.

An impression of what the Moorside development could look like. Credit: NuGen
  • What has gone wrong?

NuGen is the company behind the Moorside nuclear development.

Until recently Japanese giant Toshiba owned a 60 per cent stake, with the rest being owned by French firm Engie.

But Toshiba is facing huge financial difficulties, and has announced billions of pounds of losses over the previous financial year.

The bulk of these losses relate to problems at Toshiba's US nuclear arm, Westinghouse, which makes the AP1000 reactors that would be used at Moorside.

When Toshiba announced that Westinghouse was facing bankruptcy, Engie was allowed to exercise its right to sell its 40 per cent stake, meaning troubled Toshiba is set to become the sole owner of NuGen.

Toshiba has already announced it is reviewing all of its nuclear activities outside Japan, and is considering selling its stake in NuGen.

This throws the future of Moorside, and indeed NuGen, into doubt.

NuGen CEO Tom Samson spoke to ITV Border's Katie Hunter. Credit: ITV Border
  • What next?

There won't be any government announcements on NuGen or Moorside until after the election.

NuGen has put its application for development consent on hold while it carries out a strategic review into the future of Moorside.

Chief Executive Tom Samson says this review has the full support of the government and Toshiba, and that they're considering a range of investment options from firms around the world.

He says there will be a clearer idea of timescales for the Moorside project by the middle of this year.

  • ITV Border's full report with Tom Samson will be shown on Lookaround at 6pm this evening (Wednesday 3 May)