Public have say on Kirksanton nuclear plant

A community is expected to turn out in force at a public consultation to discuss plans for a nuclear power station on their doorstep. The Department of Energy and Climate Change will hold an open exhibition on January 21 and 22, 23 in Millom detailing proposals to build the plant at Kirksanton. A public discussion will then take place on January 23 to let the public have their say.

Villagers and business owners nearby have objected to the plans. They say the plant would lead to a loss in tourism and slump in house prices. Michael Wills, leader of the Kirksanton campaign group, set up to fight the proposals, said: “Most of the village and the group will be going along. Obviously we are still objecting for the continued reasons we always have done.

Millom Town Council has backed the plans for more nuclear power plants in West Cumbria and said the construction would bring jobs, a knock-on economic boost and improvements to the roads. Deputy mayor, Councillor Doug Wilson, who works at Sellafield, said: “The council is in favour of the development, providing there is full public consultation. I am in favour of a nuclear power plant in the area, but my favoured site is near Sellafield. If that land was not chosen by the government and the only option left was to build at Kirksanton, or not at all, I would be supportive of the development at Kirksanton.”

The land at Kirksanton was bought by energy company RWE npower last year. It estimates the power plant would create around 1,000 permanent jobs, helping workers settle into the likes of mechanical engineering careers and chemical engineering careers.

Alison Chappell, head of nuclear development for RWE npower, said: “We’re pleased the government is holding these events to explain its process for determining where new power stations could be built and take local opinion on board. Our site at Kirksanton is potentially a very good one for a new nuclear station which would bring a major economic boost both to the Millom area and to West Cumbria as a whole. We haven’t yet made a decision on whether and when we might develop but we intend to keep people updated on our plans.”

Cumbria County Council held public meetings with representative from RWE npower earlier this year. A spokesman for DECC said: “Cumbria is a world leader in nuclear technology and expertise and can continue to play a big part in helping the UK transform its energy sector, replacing old infrastructure with high tech, low-carbon energy sources. It’s essential that local people get involved and make sure their voices are heard.”

The Kirksanton farmland, at Layriggs, is one of three sites in West Cumbria nominated for a new nuclear power plant. It joins Braystones, near Egremont, and land close to the existing nuclear power plant at Sellafield as potential sites. The three were on a government shortlist released last November, which also named seven other sites across the country for similar developments.

Despite the opposition to the new nuclear site, there is no denying the benefits it could have on the area as a whole. More long-term jobs would be created, which would bring more people to the area, which in turn would increase house prices, not drive them down as some have claimed. Millom and the Kirksanton area will become places where people can settle down with a secure livelihood through such mechanical engineering careers and chemical engineering careers that would be created.

We accredit the North West Evening Mail for the inspiration for this article.

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