Thornbury area could host next generation of nuclear reactors

LAND near the former Oldbury nuclear power station is “in line” to be used for the next generation of nuclear power plants.

The group responsible for promoting regional growth, Western Gateway, says the site near Oldbury-on-Severn, which it has named Severn Edge, “could play a significant role” in plans set out in the new Civil Nuclear Roadmap unveiled by the government in January.

The Roadmap sets out ambitions to increase nuclear energy generation by up to four times current levels, to 24GW, by 2050.

The government has described it as “the biggest expansion of nuclear power for 70 years”.

A process is underway to find the best location to set up new technologies such as small modular reactors (SMR), which Western Gateway says have the potential to power up to a million homes with low carbon electricity.

The Department for Energy Security and Net Zero, which published the roadmap, has launched a consultation on sites for new nuclear schemes on the website, which runs until March 10.

A spokesperson for Western Gateway said: “Oldbury represents the prime site for new nuclear deployment within the Western Gateway’s Severn Edge project to develop a low carbon energy park to create green jobs, new skills opportunities, and clean energy for the area in partnership with local authorities, landowners and local colleges.” 

Western Gateway says the nearby Berkeley site “could play a pivotal role in addressing the need for future nuclear skills”. It already has a University Technical College operated by SGS Colleges, and a science & technology park which is “the subject of an exciting set of investment propositions”.

Oldbury a ‘serious contender’ for nuclear energy use

Western Gateway board member and South Gloucestershire Council leader Claire Young said: “It’s great to see Oldbury is still a serious contender in the Government’s plans for future energy infrastructure.

“We want to ensure the best outcome for both these sites to bring in new investment which can lead to exciting new jobs, learning and low carbon energy.

“Oldbury has long been ear-marked for nuclear development and by working with Berkeley through the Western Gateway, we have a chance to use the best of our wider area to secure this opportunity for our community.

“I look forward to the ongoing siting process and to continuing to champion our area’s incredible potential.”  

Western Gateway vice chair and Gloucestershire County Council leader Mark Hawthorne said: “Our sites in Oldbury and Berkeley provide a unique opportunity for speedy delivery, access to top quality expertise and supportive communities.” 

Picture of the former Oldbury Power Station courtesy of Western Gateway