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Nuclear reaction from city’s election candidates

If the city is chosen, the development would bring thousands of jobs and around £1.5bn to the economy.

Holtec Britain announced on Wednesday that Kingmoor Park is on a shortlist of four sites that have made it through to the final stage of its competition to find a location to build SMRs for deployment in the UK, Europe, and the Middle East.

The selected site is said to receive an initial investment of £1.3billion, reflecting Holtec’s budget for construction, with the 20-hectare factory predicted to add about £1.5billion to the local economy over 15 years.

The factory itself, however, won’t handle nuclear fuel. 

Conservative candidate John Stevenson described it as ‘extremely positive’ news.

“Exactly the reason why I have organised and hosted three nuclear conferences in Cumbria over recent years to ensure Cumbria and the wider region benefit from a growing industry,” he said.

“Developments like this bring our young people the jobs of the future.”

Labour candidate, Julie Minns, described the potentially “transformative” news as “very timely”.

“In its first year, the Labour Government will establish Great British Energy that will prepare a portfolio of projects and take the first steps to deliver a cheaper, zero-carbon electricity system by 2030,” she said.

“A factory at Kingmoor producing SMRs could play an important part in those ambitions.”

She credited the Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership and Cumberland Council who put together the bid.

Lib Dem candidate Brian Wernham said the potential build was “fantastic news”. 

“This would bring high-paid tech jobs into Carlisle with dozens of apprentices being trained and jobs for our engineering technicians and engineering graduates who otherwise would move away from the city. 

“My hope is that the west Cumbria energy coast will host the SMRs when they are running, bringing jobs and prosperity to that area also,” he said. 

Gavin Hawkton, the Green Party candidate, offered a note of caution, however.

“I welcome initiatives that aim to boost our local economy and create jobs,” he said.

“It’s why we should tap into Cumbria’s renewable energy potential to quickly reduce energy bills and create highly skilled jobs.

“What we are seemingly presented with here is nuclear investment or nothing.

“The real choice should be renewables. Unlike high-risk, high-cost nuclear projects, wind and solar initiatives are reliable and cost-effective.

“Research by the University of Oxford has shown that up to 2,896 TWh/ year could be generated by wind and solar alone, against the projected demand for 2050 of 1,500 TWh/year.

“Technology is growing apace all the time and the UK risks being left behind in the global green race. None of the other political parties want to have a serious conversation about this.

“The idea of nuclear power as ‘clean energy’ is also a dangerous misconception.

“From uranium mining to radioactive waste, the environmental and health impacts are significant and long-lasting,” he said. 

The decision is set to be announced come autumn.

The Reform UK candidate Stephen Ward was approached for comment.