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Nuclear spin.png This article is part of the Nuclear Spin project of Spinwatch.


NuGen is a UK nuclear company jointly owned by GDF Suez and Iberdrola. Set up in February 2009 originally with a third partner SSE, the joint venture secured an option to buy land for £70 million from the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) in October 2009. It wants to develop a new generation nuclear power station of up to 3.6 GW at a disused reactor site near Sellafield on the UK's West Cumbrian coast.

In June 2011 NuGen's chosen site was deemed suitable by the UK government in its National Policy Statement. NuGen has been preparing detailed development plans for the 'Moorside' site to go through a consultation process, aiming for a final investment decision to be taken around 2015. [1]

In late September 2012 the Sunday Times reported that Iberdrola, Spanish owner of Scottish Power had decided to pull out of NuGen.[2] Chairman of Britain’s Energy Coast, former Labour energy minister Brian Wilson, said however he had received assurances 'at the highest level' that plans for nuclear new build at Sellafield remain on track. [3]

Up for sale in 2013

In October 2013 nuclear reactor builder Westinghouse (ownly mainly by Toshiba) was reportedly finalising talks in October to buy a more than 50 per cent stake in NuGen for £64 million.

China negotiates hard to become a NuGen partner

China's state nuclear technology developer was also in talks throughout September and October 2013 to join the NuGen project. However the Sunday Times newspaper said it understood that the State Nuclear Power Technology Company (SNPTC) 'will go ahead only if it receives assurances from Whitehall that it will one day be able to build Chinese-designed nuclear stations in Britain'.

The deal was raised in talks last week with Ed Davey, the energy secretary, during his on a 10-day visit to China. SNPTC is building the first version of its new reactor, the CAP 1400, in China. It is understood the company wants a government pledge that it will help guide the new design through Britain’s regulatory approval process. SNPTC is considering joining the Nugen project, which was set up in 2009 by Iberdrola, the owner of Scottish Power, along with France’s GDF, and SSE, the utility. Nugen bought a large parcel of land next to the Sellafield toxic waste dump with plans to build up to six reactors. SSE pulled out two years later. Iberdrola informed GDF last year that it too would no longer proceed. Toshiba’'s Westinghouse has recently entered talks to buy out Iberdrola. SNPTC would likely be a purely financial partner in Nugen. [4]

Part of efforts to neuter anti-nuclear protest?

In October 2012 a Department of Energy and Climate Change document released to Spinwatch under Freedom of Information laws revealed that NuGen was one of three nuclear companies present at a National Public Order Intelligence Unit (NPOIU) meeting on 'activism and nuclear new build' held Whitehall in June 2011. Also present were government officials from BIS, DECC and the Home Office, along with the Civil Nuclear Constabulary, a specialist force for guarding nuclear power sites. The other companies were EDF and Horizon.

Police officers from three areas where new nuclear stations are planned were also involved – Avon and Somerset (Hinkley Point), Suffolk (Sizewell) and North Wales (Wylfa). [5]

All names of officials, police officers and industry attendees, however, were redacted. The meeting's stated purpose was to:

  • obtain an agreed understanding of the available intelligence on the risk to the new build programme from environmental activism
  • identify key stakeholder concerns and issues
  • identify any potential gaps in arrangements for managing the risk of direct action or protests at new build sites or to identify areas where further clarity is needed'

You can view the document Annex 4 Activism and Nuclear New Build: Stakeholder Roundtable Thursday 9 June at 10.00am, Room G07, 55 Whitehall at Spinwatch's website.

Paying local council staff to work on development application

In June 2012 local press reports said the company planned to pay local council staff for work on the development application for NuGen’s Moorside project .

NuGen is set to pay for Copeland Council staff to do work for it to help pave the way for a planned nuclear power station. The aim of the proposed work is to progress an application for development order consent leading to construction but without prejudice to whether or not the Moorside reactors are built near Sellafield. A new National Infrastructure Directorate will decide on all new UK power station applications, including Moorside. But decisions will be made by the government body based on views from the councils, consultations and from prospective developers. Subject to Planning Performance Agreements being signed off around the end of June, NuGen will fund a legally-binding contract for a wide range of work to be done on its behalf by both Copeland and Cumbria County Council staff. [6]



Contact, resources and notes





  1. Our Plans, undated, accessed 21 June 2012
  2. Sunday Times 30th Sept 2012
  3. [ coast-chief-1.1002325?referrerPath=business ], Cumberland News 5 Oct 2012
  4. China eyes Sellafield, Sunday Times 29 Sept 2013, acc 3 Oct 2013
  5. Rob Edwards in cooperation with Spinwatch, Police trying to neuter anti-nuclear protest, 02 October 2012
  6. Alan Irving, NuGen wants to pay for council staff’s expertise, 07 June 2012, acc 21 June 2012
  7. Nuclear Development Forum 27 October 2011 12noon – 2pm List of Attendees, Department of Energy and Climate Change