On 8th November, Toshiba made the decision to close down the NUGEN operation. They have been trying to find another contractor to take over the construction of Moorside, but negotiations have all failed. This appears to be mainly due to the lack of sufficient subsidy from government.
The government was severely criticised for the high level of support promised to the Hinkley Point project, and is not prepared to offer the same for future power station projects.
It therefore seems unlikely that the Moorside project will ever go ahead, and the National Grid connection project therefore will no longer be necessary.

Power Without Pylons has never opposed Moorside, but we are obviously pleased that the threat of giant pylons around the Duddon Estuary has now receded.
If the project is ever revived, and giant pylons again threaten our wonderful landscape, we will still be here to oppose them.

While local MPs push for government commitment to Moorside, latest news casts doubt on whether the new power station will ever be built.

Kepco pulls out

Korea Electric Power Corporation (Kepco) was lined up to acquire NuGen, the Toshiba-owned venture in charge of the Moorside project, but now looks set to abandon its bid.   Negotiations have stalled since the UK government adopted a new pricing model for the plant that would reduce the level of profitability for the constructor. With Kepco now stripped of its ‘preferred bidder’ status, a new buyer has to be found – but none appears to be in prospect. Criticism over the high costs of supporting Hinkley Point C has caused the government to reduce its level of financial support for future nuclear plants.

 NuGen restructuring

The failure to seal a deal with Kepco has forced NuGen to review its size and structure, as its project is dogged by more delays.  Up to 100 jobs, including that of the CEO, are thought to be at risk.

NuGen has, however, provided information to support Moorside being carried forward as a site for a new nuclear power station.  This will feed in to a new National Policy Statement for Nuclear Power that will define government policy for development of new sources of energy from 2026 to 2035.

Wylfa woes 

The Wylfa nuclear power plant, which Hitachi plans to build on Anglesey in Wales, has had a major set-back.  Key partner Bechtel has pulled out of its construction role after it estimated a significant rise in overall costs to comply with new safety standards. Hitachi is now left with the task of finding a partner to replace Bechtel and securing adequate investment.

 UK government stance

In its recent assessment, the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) has advised the UK government that it should not agree support for more than one nuclear power station beyond Hinkley Point C before 2025. Wylfa is the most likely candidate for support, since it is furthest ahead in the planning process – if Hitachi can overcome its current problems.  The NIC advocates the use of renewable energy sources and recommends that the electricity system should be running off 50 per cent renewable generation by 2030.

Here’s our May 2018 newsletter to update you on the current situation.


Ok, nothing to do with pylons, but we thought supporters might also be interested in wind turbines!

On 5 December, in a close vote, South Lakeland District Council planning committee rejected an application to extend the life of the wind farm above Kirkby-in-Furness on the Burlington Slate Ltd land – despite a recommendation for approval by planning officers.

Congratulations to those who fought against the proposal, made written submissions and spoke at the meeting in opposition. Eleven parish councils were united in opposition against the developer’s application, along with a number of county councillors, district councillors and other representatives. Reasons for objection included the impact on communities, the visitor economy, the landscape and visual amenity.  The wind turbine towers are now set to be removed within the next two years.

This is of course great news for the local communities and it could be good news for the campaign to prevent giant pylons being  erected in a similar area.  The planning committee was swayed in its vote by the united opposition of local communities to the original decision to build the wind farm as an experiment in the early 1990s.  Local wishes were then over-ruled but that has now changed.  Also, now that the wind turbines are designated “to be removed”, the case for erecting new pylons is weakened: it will be harder for developers to disprove any negative impact against a base-level assumption of no vertical infrastructure at the head of the Duddon Estuary.


We emailed the following question to all parliamentary candidates Cumbria-wide (Barrow and Furness, Carlisle, Copeland, Penrith and the Border, Westmorland and Lonsdale, Workington):
In the event of Moorside going ahead, what are your views on how the power station should be connected?

Barrow and Furness constituency

Labour candidate: John Woodcock

John Woodcock was elected MP for Barrow and Furness in 2010. He has demonstrated strong support for the anti-pylon cause since 2015.

He told us:
“National Grid has paused its proposed Northwest Coast Connections project. It is great news that the amazing community campaign, spearheaded by the tenacious group Power Without Pylons, will get more time to make the case against giant pylons in the Duddon valley – we will keep fighting to protect our beautiful natural landscape.
Events such as the New Year’s day walk along the proposed pylon route really have kept the pressure up for a rethink on the use of giant pylons and I am proud to have played my part.
If I am returned as your MP on June 8th I will continue to battle hard for the connection to go ahead without the proposed monstrous pylons as an independent Labour voice fighting for the Furness community.”

He pledged, if re-elected, to raise the issues of Moorside and the NWCC project with the Energy Minister as soon as possible.

Conservative candidate: Simon Fell

Simon Fell told us: “Put simply, I believe that the current plans are entirely inappropriate. Placing pylons of any size along the proposed route would permanently damage our natural environment. I would support the routing of cables either offshore or underground and, if elected, I would hope to work with your group, other interested bodies, local representatives, NWCC and the government to find a solution that enables the project to go ahead but without the permanent disfiguration to our landscape that the proposed solution would bring.”


Liberal Democrat candidate: Loraine Birchall

Loraine Birchall replied:
“I have already lobbied together with the Lake District National Park Business Task Force group for the cables to be buried underground along the whole route.    Given than most of the area around Millom and the Furness peninsular is only just outside the National Park and is every bit as beautiful, it would have a detrimental effect on the area.
I did live in Ladyhall when my son was a toddler (he is 17 next month) and know the area well. I have asked questions during the consultation regarding the ‘costings’ for the subsea element of the project and haven’t received an answer. I was curious as to why the subsea costings have almost doubled in just over two years from the previous consultation, given that the price of steel, fuel and other commodities is actually very low, steel in particular being ‘on the floor’ compared to past costs. Curious, is it not?
If elected, I will lobby and campaign for the cables to be buried rather than erect giant pylons in such a beautiful area.”

[N.B. PWP has also asked National Grid, more than once, for an explanation for the doubling of the HVDC subsea cost estimate, and none has been forthcoming. We believe that their current estimate for this option cannot be justified, and that the technical issues have been exaggerated.]

Other candidates

We have received no replies from our emails to other candidates.

We emailed the following question to all parliamentary candidates Cumbria-wide (Barrow and Furness, Carlisle, Copeland, Penrith and the Border, Westmorland and Lonsdale, Workington):
In the event of Moorside going ahead, what are your views on how the power station should be connected?

Copeland constituency

Conservative candidate: Trudy Harrison

Trudy Harrison was elected MP for Copeland in the by-election on 23 February 2017.
She has previously expressed her opposition to new giant pylons, and joined us on the St George’s Day Black Combe walk in April 2016.

She replied:
“I am fully in favour of cables being taken out to sea and avoiding the use of pylons blighting our area. This is what I would seek to happen and hope to meet with National Grid and ministers, if I am re-elected on Thursday, to make it clear that building pylons is not the only option and demonstrate how damaging it would be to our area if pylons went ahead. Taking the cables out to sea is very much a viable option and one which has local support.
Thank you for getting in touch and I hope I have answered your question.”

Labour candidate: Gillian Troughton

She has not responded to our recent email, but her election literature states:
“I will ensure that our communities have a real say in all major developments, whether they are pylons, wind turbines, or major nuclear investments.”
Her priorities include:

  • “Nuclear – to secure jobs in the nuclear industry for future generations ensure our local supply chain benefits from investment in Moorside and the Sellafield site.”

In an email to PWP back in February, she said:
“I was glad to see North West Coast Connections offering a consultation and taking the opportunity to review their proposals from the feedback and ongoing assessments. I understand local people’s concerns against the prospect of pylons being built and have seen the thousands of people who have protested against this last month. National Grid and the government cannot overlook the hundreds who participated on the march nor the responses to the consultation.”

Liberal Democrat candidate: Rebecca Hanson

She has not responded to our recent email, but in an email to PWP back in February, she said:
“I understand that alternative proposals such as off-shoring the cables have been suggested. I will urge National Grid to give them full attention; although I know that there are significant challenges of strong tidal streams, tunnelling costs, and the firing range. There may be a need for extra national subsidy for this project.
I would like the options of better, more modern pylons that have less visual impact and generating electricity from a Duddon Bridge to fund further cable burial to be considered.
I understand the misery of people who’ve build their livelihoods based on tourism and on those who love their space and their views. 
As your MP I would fight to ensure all avenues are explored.”

Other candidates

We have received no replies from our emails to other candidates.

The John Woodcock meeting this evening has been postponed due to the event in Manchester.


It was due to have taken place this evening (Wednesday 24 May) in the Victory Hall, Broughton-in-Furness, from 6 – 7.30pm.


The intention is to re-schedule it for the following Wednesday, 31st May, same time, same place.

We will confirm this later.

John Woodcock meeting

John Woodcock, the Labour-Cooperative Candidate for Barrow and Furness, is to hold a meeting at the Victory Hall, Broughton-in-Furness, on Wednesday 24 May from 6 – 7.30pm. He will discuss the anti-pylon campaign to date and focus on where to take the campaign next. John has been a strong and active supporter of the campaign against pylons. If he is returned as the MP he pledges to continue to battle hard for the connection to go ahead without the proposed pylons.

PWP is contacting parliamentary candidates in all the relevant constituencies to ask their opinions on NG’s NWCC proposals and seek support for the Kirksanton to Rossall option. We hope to publish statements on the PWP website.

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.

Trudy Harrison has been elected as Conservative MP for Copeland in the by-election on 23 Feb.

She had previously expressed her opposition to new giant pylons, and joined us on the St George’s Day Black Combe walk in April 2016.

In an email to PWP, she said  “I support Moorside, and the nuclear industry locally, [but] given the impact that the National Grid’s plans would have on our local area, I don’t support them in their current form”.

We look forward to working with her to persuade National Grid PLC to change their damaging plans for giant pylons in and around the Duddon Estuary.