Page last updated at 10:08 GMT, Thursday, 26 February 2009

Plans for nuclear sites revealed

Cumbria's existing nuclear plant at Sellafield is being decommissioned

A German firm says it is hopeful it will be allowed to build up to two new nuclear power stations in Cumbria.

RWE Npower is close to buying sites on the west Cumbrian coast at Egremont and Millom from private landowners.

If government approval is forthcoming, the company says power for up to five million homes could be being produced by 2020.

Environmentalists have criticised the plans, claiming Cumbria should move away from nuclear power.

Unions, council bosses and regeneration agency officials, welcomed the proposal, which could bring up to 1,200 jobs.

Both sites have coastal access and are currently farmland, with one relatively close to the existing Sellafield reprocessing plant.

A public consultation will take place over the next few months.

Dave Gardner, head of nuclear projects at RWE Npower, said: "We believe both these sites have strong potential for new nuclear build.

'Fantastic news'

"We will be talking to local people as soon as possible to let them know more about our plans."

Martin Forwood, campaign coordinator for Cumbrians Opposed to a Radioactive Environment (Core), said: "If these plans are approved we can say goodbye to a clean and diverse future for west Cumbria.

"The nuclear skills we already have in Cumbria should be better utilised in the clean-up operations of existing sites being carried out by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority."

But Jamie Reed, MP for Copeland, said: "This is a very welcome announcement from a major company.

"Both sites could house at least two new reactors and it's now time for these proposals to be presented to the local communities."

Elaine Woodburn, leader of Copeland Borough Council, said: "Copeland very much welcomes the siting of new nuclear power generation in the area.

"We look forward to very early discussions with RWE to discuss their proposals in detail."

Mike Graham, from the union Prospect, said: "This is fantastic news.

"This could mean up to 65 years of long-term, highly skilled and well paid jobs for west Cumbria."

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