Interest in new nuclear development in Cumbria demonstrates it is "a premier site for clean energy generation", says a member of Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership.

Cumbria LEP, Cumbria County Council, Copeland Borough Council and Britain’s Energy Coast Business Cluster have all welcomed Copeland MP Trudy Harrison’s announcement about the potential for new nuclear generation investment in Cumbria.

They have been working with Rolls-Royce and EDF Energy, as they explore the potential for future investment in the Moorside site in West Cumbria.

Mrs Harrison, who is vice-chair of the all-party parliamentary group for nuclear energy, has held virtual meetings with Rolls-Royce and EDF Energy in recent weeks in a bid to progress their interest in plans to build new nuclear reactors in West Cumbria.

A Rolls-Royce-led consortium plans to build small modular reactors across the UK by 2029, with Cumbria previously identified as a potential site, while EDF Energy is working on two new nuclear reactors at Hinkley Point C in Somerset.

Mrs Harrison believes they have interest in building an EPR reactor in the area.

Dr Rebecca Weston, chair of Cumbria LEP’s clean energy sector panel, said: “I am really pleased that we now have two major companies expressing serious interest in siting new nuclear developments in Cumbria.

"This demonstrates our credentials as a premier site for clean energy generation. The UK is committed to net zero carbon and Cumbria has an important role in supporting the achievement of this.”

Cumbria has one of the world’s largest offshore operational windfarms near Barrow and offshore wind capability will be extended further once the Round 4 licensing process off Cumbria’s west coast proceeds.

The LEP says these developments, together with the new nuclear capability, will see Cumbria become a national leader in clean energy generation and build on the reputation it has established in the nuclear sector at Sellafield Ltd, BAE Systems, in Barrow, and the National Nuclear Laboratories and the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority in West Cumbria.

Dr Weston said: “Cumbria is determined to put a strong case forward to ensure that we are at the forefront of both Government and investors’ thinking, when they are considering new nuclear.

"There is the necessary skills, knowhow and consented sites to make Cumbria the destination of choice for clean energy investment.”

Councillor David Southward, Cumbria County Council cabinet member for economic development and property, said: “It’s encouraging to note the interest shown by both Rolls Royce and EDF.

"Cumbria, with its unique history in the nuclear sector, would be extremely well placed to play its part in the rollout of such technology."

John Grainger, executive director of Britain’s Energy Coast Business Cluster, said: “We welcome the interest being shown by such large organisations in the field of energy production.

"The dual benefits of new inward investment allied to a strong and experienced local supply chain offers a really exciting prospect for maximising economic benefit to our area.”

Councillor David Moore, Copeland Council’s portfolio holder for nuclear and corporate services, said: “The council has been a long term supporter of the development of the Moorside site for new low-carbon energy generation to make a contribution to the nation’s future energy needs.

“We firmly believe that nuclear technologies have a key role to play in our clean energy future and our communities have a long history of pioneering clean energy technologies.

"The proposals for development of new reactors at Moorside aligns closely with the Clean Energy Park vision set out in the Cumbria Nuclear Prospectus and is fantastic news for the locality.

“As the council’s portfolio holder, I look forward to continuing the dialogue with the consortium to bring this exciting proposal to fruition.”