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Last Updated: Tuesday, 6 April, 2004, 10:23 GMT 11:23 UK
Plan to ease nuclear job losses
Chapelcross power station
The plant employs about 430 staff
A plan aimed at dealing with projected job losses at the Chapelcross nuclear power station has been published.

The Dumfriesshire plant - which shuts next year - has about 430 employees and generates 20m a year for the triangle bounded by Annan, Lockerbie and Gretna.

A working party of politicians and economic development agencies looked at how to mitigate the impact of closure.

Ideas include capitalising on Gretna's tourist potential and creating a decommissioning centre of excellence.

Jobs will also be created during the closure of the plant and the removal of its fuel elements.

British Nuclear Fuels (BNFL) announced the closure plan in the year 2000.

We don't have a precise figure at the moment, but there is quite a lot of work in the early phase of Chapelcross defuelling
Wynne Davies
BNFL
John Plant, of Scottish Enterprise Dumfries and Galloway - the lead agency in the working group - said it was unusual to be given so much notice.

"We are normally reacting to company closures that happen very quickly," he said.

The group's prospectus aims to set out a framework for the future of the area, with ideas including the diversification of the Chapelcross site.

"There is a tremendous asset there with its infrastructure and its connection to the grid, which allows us to do work on that site," said Mr Plant.

"There is also work on turning Gretna and Gretna Green into an international tourist attraction, because it is known throughout the world.

"We are also looking at the opportunities that we get through the road and rail links that run through the area."

Jobs are also expected to be created through the 300m decommissioning process.

Centre of excellence

Wynne Davies, of BNFL, said: "There is a significant amount of work in taking out in the order of 50,000 fuel elements from the station and moving them for reprocessing to Sellafield.

"We are currently working with our staff and trade unions to look at appropriate structures for that phase.

"We don't have a precise figure at the moment, but there is quite a lot of work in the early phase of Chapelcross defuelling."

By taking a proactive approach we are trying to make sure that we can encourage businesses in to take the place of these jobs
Councillor Sean Marshall
There is also a vision of creating a decommissioning centre of excellence.

Mr Plant said the aim was to attract some of the industry's major players to carry out the work at Chapelcross.

There are also hopes that local firms will bid for parts of the contracts.

The tone of the working party's document is optimistic, but includes a warning that there are no quick fixes.

Local councillor Sean Marshall, who works at Chapelcross, said hundreds of quality jobs were disappearing with no real alternatives on offer.

"By taking a proactive approach we are trying to make sure that we can encourage businesses in to take the place of these jobs," he said.

Chapelcross was one of eight Magnox stations which helped pioneer the British nuclear power programme in the 50s and 60s.




WATCH AND LISTEN
BBC Scotland's Willie Johnston
"The prospectus warns that there can be no quick fix"



SEE ALSO:
Nuclear decommissioning plea
07 Apr 03  |  Scotland
Wind farm call for nuclear site
21 Jun 02  |  Scotland
Nuclear plant closure plans
23 May 00  |  Scotland


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