Confirmed by reliable sources within separate Cumbrian local authorities, developer NuGen’s application to the Planning Inspectorate for a Development Consent Order (DCO) for Moorside has slipped back by at least 6 months. This DCO submission date, previously identified variously by NuGen in its Stage 1 and Stage 2 public consultations on the project as April 2017, the Spring 2017 or Quarter 2 2017, now looks destined to be made at the end of 2017 at the earliest.
It remains unclear which of the many specific factors known to threaten the project’s schedule is largely responsible for this latest delay. Whilst Toshiba’s financial woes and the potential bankruptcy of its Westinghouse subsidiary, and the failure so far of the AP1000 reactors to receive design clearance from the Office for Nuclear Regulation must be prime candidates, but delays in securing new investors for the development and finding a way through the local transport infrastructure minefield must also be in the frame.
CORE’s spokesman Martin Forwood said today: ‘This new delay will be a major embarrassment for NuGen after all the hype about Moorside in the recent Copeland parliamentary by-election and must threaten to put back the consortium’s investment decision currently planned for late 2018. At this rate the project will be obsolete before the first concrete is poured or the first reactor module manufactured’.
NuGen has to date failed to respond to information requests this year from CORE on its reaction to the calls from CORE, Cumbria County Council, Copeland Borough Council and others whose written submissions to the Stage 2 consultation last year complained about the lack of detailed information on some major aspects of the development and called for a further period of consultation to be held before the DCO was submitted to the Planning Inspectorate.
Martin Forwood added: ‘The only positive for us about this latest six month delay is that it enhances the chances of further public consultation taking place on this dodgy development. But NuGen needs to be more transparent and honest with those who have a genuine interest in the development, whether for or against, rather than hiding behind its defensive and secretive cloak as a private rather than public enterprise – especially if it is counting on the UK taxpayer to help finance the project’.