NuGen’s board is meeting today (10 September) to consider job cuts on its troubled project to build a new nuclear plant in Cumbria.
The board of the company, which is backed by Toshiba, is expected to consider the outcome of a consultation exercise on jobs reduction launched at the end of July.
The Times reported on Saturday that NuGen is considering cutting up to 50 jobs, which equates to about half of its workforce.
NuGen revealed last month that it had embarked on the consultation exercise with staff after its Japanese multi-national backer failed to find a buyer for its stake in the project to build a 3GW station at Moorside in coastal Cumbria.
Toshiba withdrew preferred bidder status from South Korean utility Kepco in July although the Korean utility is still one of the options being considered for its stake in Moorside, which could generate around 7 per cent of the UK’s total electricity needs.
A NuGen spokesperson said: “There have been meetings of various configurations for some time and they continue. Although Kepco are no longer Toshiba’s preferred bidder they are nevertheless at an advanced stage of discussions.”
Toshiba decided last year to quit the project after suffering massive losses due to cost over-runs on new build nuclear projects in the USA. French owned Engie, which had been its partner on Moorside, had already withdrawn from the project.
The GMB union has called for the government to rescue the project by re-constituting the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) as an agency to take over the project on behalf of the government.
Justin Bowden, of the GMB, said: “The lessons from the collapse of Toshiba should have been well and truly learned long ago: relying on foreign companies and countries for our essential energy needs is utterly irresponsible.
“The NDA must be re-tasked and renamed as the Nuclear Development Authority to take over NuGen and develop a new nuclear power station at Moorside.
“As well as eradicating the uncertainty, by the government taking a stake and taking control at Moorside, the price to consumers will be greatly reduced making good all round sense, not just the obvious benefits to bill payers but because the government is ‘the lender of last resort’ when it comes to guaranteeing the country’s energy supply and so direct public funding of the construction does away with the nonsensical pretence that this is some other country or company’s responsibility.
“It’s time to say ‘enough is enough’.
“The NDA needs to be scrapped as it currently exists and a Nuclear Development Agency created to make sure Moorside and the accompanying creation of thousands of new jobs and apprenticeships, goes ahead.”