A JOBS-boosting new nuclear power station for Hartlepool has moved another step closer.
The Government has confirmed eight sites where new multi-million pound reactors can be developed, and Hartlepool is one of them.
A new plant could employ around 450 highly-skilled people with 3,000 workers needed to build it over five years. The plant could generate enough energy to power 1.5m homes.
The others approved are: Sizewell, Suffolk; Bradwell, Essex; Heysham, Lancashire; Hinkley Point, Somerset; Oldbury, South Gloucestershire; Sellafield, Cumbria, and Wylfa, Anglesey.
The plans for new nuclear power plants are part of a series of national policy statements on energy which were published following a public consultation.
They will be debated and voted on in Parliament but ministers are hopeful that, with a pro-nuclear majority in the Commons, they will win the argument.
Hartlepool MP Iain Wright said: “It is a step in the right direction and it means it looks increasingly like Hartlepool will get a replacement power station.
Town Mayor Stuart Drummond said plants in the south would be the first to be developed but he added: “We shall continue to prepare ourselves and lobby as hard as we can to get one here.”
Councillor Ray Wells, leader of the Conservative Group in Hartlepool, said: “This would not only secure existing jobs but it would also lead to hundreds of construction jobs in town.”
James Ramsbotham, chief executive of the North East Chamber of Commerce, said: “While it is not yet clear when the new plant will come on stream, there are clearly going to be opportunities for companies in the North-East to be involved in the supply chain for decommissioning the existing plant and building the new one.”
A Government minister has talked of the massive benefits that a new nuclear power station could bring to Hartlepool.
Energy Minister Charles Hendry, in a statement to the Hartlepool Mail, said: “For decades, the North-East played a key role in supplying the UK with the energy that powers our homes and businesses.
“The nuclear power station at Hartlepool has been providing low carbon electricity for 30 nearly years now. Around a quarter of the UK’s generating capacity is due to close by the end of this decade. We need to replace this with secure, low carbon, affordable energy.
“This will require over £100bn worth of investment in electricity generation alone. This means twice as much investment in energy infrastructure in this decade as was achieved in the last decade.”
Mr Hendry added: “With investment comes opportunity. The construction of a nuclear power station at Hartlepool could generate up to 5,000 jobs. Across the country, an expansion in offshore wind expansion could bring 70,000 jobs, and carbon capture and storage could support up to 100,000 jobs by 2030.
As developers bring forward proposals for major energy projects, the views of local people will be central to our concerns. And because every part of the country has its own unique landscape and characteristics, decisions will be based on local conditions.”