A joint venture including prominent businesses from Cumbria has been appointed to a major framework worth up to £400 million to support the ongoing decommissioning of the Dounreay nuclear site in Scotland.

Nuclear Decommissioning Ltd (NDL) – which includes Shepley Engineers Ltd, professional services firm WYG plc, REACT Engineering, and James Fisher Nuclear Ltd – has won one of the six framework contracts awarded by Dounreay Site Restoration Limited (DSRL).

The joint venture will support clean-up and demolition of Britain’s former centre of fast reactor research and development at the remote site on the north coast of Scotland.

NDL will provide multidisciplinary services to help make the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) owned site safe, ranging from civil and structural engineering to design, architecture and project management.

It expects to be on site before the start of the summer to deliver the four-year contract, which has an option for a three-year extension.

NDL spokesman and managing director of James Fisher Nuclear Paul Read said: “This marks a strategic commitment by NDL to the future of the Caithness and Sutherland area.

“We are very proud to have a strong track record of delivery in accelerated decommissioning within the NDA estate and investing in local skills. The team at NDL is looking forward to exploring opportunities to bring our expertise to the Dounreay site.”

The clean-up of Dounreay represents one of the most complex nuclear site closure projects in Europe as part of the NDA’s nationwide efforts to return its 17 sites – which include Sellafield in West Cumbria – back to public use.

The last round of work awarded by DSRL – which is owned by Cavendish Dounreay Partnership on behalf of the NDA – include the construction of a size reduction facility, shaft and silo decommissioning and demolition of historic active laboratories.

A total of 28 companies, ranging from SMEs to some of the industry’s biggest players will now compete in ‘mini competitions’ for distinct packages of work that move the site towards its ultimate closure, said the NDA.

In addition to technical submissions, bidders were also required to put forward proposals, including support for STEM and SME development schemes, to create a “positive legacy” in the Caithness and North Sutherland, explained its head of commercial services, Stephen Adamson.

He said: “This agreement will deliver real and visible signs of progress towards achieving our mission. It is about forming long-term partnerships so that the successful companies can work alongside our own Dounreay staff, ensuring a first-class team combining the best site skills and experience with the wider industry knowledge and innovation that the supply chain can offer.”

Another major framework winner was the Dounreay Wood Alliance, which sees prime contractor Wood partner with Aquila Nuclear Engineering; GD Energy Services; Orano Projects.

Chief executive of Wood’s Specialist Technical Solutions business, Bob MacDonald, said: “This framework contract is an important addition to our portfolio of work at Dounreay.

“It enhances our market share in nuclear decommissioning, cements our long-term commitment to the Caithness region, and provides another opportunity to bring Wood’s multi-sector experience to bear.

“Combined with the design and engineering framework that we signed last year, we now have a route to market across the entire Dounreay site.”

Wood’s nuclear business employs more than 1,300 people in the North West, including at sites at Sellafield and Whitehaven.