Government energy strategy raises prospect of new nuclear plant in Cumbria

A new nuclear power site could be built at Moorside

Cumbria's Moorside has been mentioned in the government's new energy strategy.

The government released their energy strategy on Thursday 7 April which included plans for controlling energy prices by boosting nuclear, wind, solar and hydrogen.

Ministers have said they hope to build eight new nuclear plants by 2050.The strategy mentions that Moorside, next to Sellafield in West Cumbria, is one of the UK's eight "designated nuclear sites", though does not confirm that means it will be a site for development.

Toshiba abandoned plans for a new nuclear plant there in 2018, but it has been shortlisted as a potential site for a new prototype nuclear fusion plant.

Mike Starkie, Mayor of Copeland has said that he thinks West Cumbria will be "very much involved" in the future of nuclear technology.

He said: "For the first time in a long time we've got a government that's shown a clear commitment to nuclear going forward.

"I think we've got real opportunities in nuclear here in West Cumbria. We've got a supportive community, we've got the site, we've got the skills, expertise in the area, and I'm fairly sure that we're going to be very much involved in the nuclear future of the United Kingdom."

However, Marianne Birkby from Radiation Free Lakeland described the prospects of nuclear energy as "dangerous".

She said: "Nuclear power is dangerous, it's dirty, it's outdated and going forwards renewables can provide over 90% of the global energy needs."

Referring to Moorside specifically she added: "This would be right next to the world's largest stockpile of plutonium. It's actually a buffer zone, and it's a very fragile area, it should absolutely not be used as new nuclear."

Tim Farron, MP for Westmorland & Lonsdale acknowledged that it may be years before nuclear energy might actually be used.

Instead of a nuclear approach, he argued that wind and water might be a quicker way of producing energy.

He said: "I think nuclear is part of the energy mix, but we'll not get a single watt out of new nuclear for many, many years and we need to make sure we fast-track those things that can happen now, like wind and water.

"We need to be in a situation where we can start decoupling ourselves from Putin and from carbon right away. Nuclear won't help you do that, it will only help you do it in a decade or two."