The UK’s biggest union has called for the government `to get a grip’ on the funding of major infrastructure projects, following today’s (Tuesday 14 February) announcement that Toshiba is to wait yet another month before confirming its intentions towards the Moorside nuclear power station in Cumbria.
Unite national officer for energy Kevin Coyne said: “Toshiba’s announcement today that there will be yet another month’s delay on providing clarity over its future involvement in the Moorside project piles further agony upon this Cumbrian community.
“But it also reinforces what Unite has been saying for some time which is that the government must get a grip of the funding of these projects. It is the duty of the government, not the private sector, to ensure that UK energy is safe secure and that means it must act to bring our new power stations on stream.
“As the further uncertainty caused by today’s delay by Toshiba all too clearly illustrates, this reliance on private sector companies to supply the financing for the UK’s energy future is simply not secure. That’s why it is the job of governments to come up with a coherent financial architecture to ensure that such large developments proceed smoothly. Keeping our lights on cannot be left to the whimsy of market forces.
“If this government is at all serious about delivering its industrial strategy, then it will not tread water following today’s development. It is not just the security of our energy supply that is up in the air now. In a community that could sorely do with the investment, thousands of highly-skilled and well-paid jobs are linked with Moorside going ahead successfully - they cannot be jeopardised.”
Toshiba has a 60 per cent stake to provide the reactors for the Moorside project owned by the NuGen consortium. NuGen, a UK nuclear company, is a joint venture between Toshiba and French company ENGIE. The Toshiba-owned Westinghouse Electric Company would have supplied the three reactors. ENGIE is earmarked to operate the site.
Unite reiterated that there is not a clear, suitable alternative to the design for the AP1000 nuclear reactors at Moorside, near Sellafield, proposed by Toshiba as their version differs from the generator made by the South Koreans, who the government may approach to replace the Toshiba investment.
Kevin Coyne added: “A change of design in the reactor could take five years to implement, which is troubling, as it is means more delays that the UK energy sector can ill-afford.
“The government has to get a grip of its policy as it has an overriding duty to keep the lights on for the consumer and industry in the decades to come.”
Notes to editors:
For more information please contact Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble on 020 3371 2060 or 07768 693940. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.