Moorside project put on hold

Moorside power station and the National Grid connection project on hold

National Grid (NG) formally announced on 16 May that it is “pausing work” on its North West Coast Connections (NWCC) project. This swiftly follows a similar announcement from National Grid’s customer, NuGen, that it too is “pausing work” on its Development Consent Order (DCO) for Moorside, whilst it undertakes “a strategic review to look  at its ownership and technology vendor.”

Work on the Moorside nuclear power plant project and the NWCC project had been progressing in parallel, with a view to submitting DCOs to the Planning Inspectorate (PINS) for both projects at around the same time.

Since Toshiba will not now be funding the Moorside project, NuGen is currently seeking alternative investors. Westinghouse, the wholly-owned subsidiary of Toshiba whose reactor technology was to have been used, is bankrupt.  If NuGen makes changes to the technology and design planned for Moorside, this could mean that significant changes are required to the connection.

NG states that the pause is to ensure its project and NuGen’s programme are aligned.

This stalling is potentially good news, as it gives NG more time to consider alternatives to pylons, in particular offshore options favoured by so many respondents to the consultation process.

To summarise the current situation:

  • The Moorside project is currently on hold until financial backing is secured.
  • NG is not expected to submit a DCO until the future of Moorside is clearer.
  • Further progress is unlikely before mid-2018.
  • Moorside and NWCC could be delayed for several years.