Billions of pounds worth of investment and thousands of jobs will come to Nottinghamshire after it was a chosen as the home of what is hoped to be world’s first commercial prototype fusion energy plant.
Jacob Rees-Mogg, Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, announced today (Monday) that West Burton A, near Retford, is due to be the first site in the world to develop a commercial power station that will use the energy produced by fusion reactions to generate electricity. The site was among 15 nominated locations.
The ambitious project – Spherical Tokamak for Energy Production – known as STEP, is being led by the UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA). Fusion offers an inherently safe and virtually limitless source of clean electricity by copying the processes that power the sun.
Councillor Ben Bradley MP, Leader of Nottinghamshire County Council, led the region’s reaction to the news.
He said: “We are so proud to have played our part in this amazing, once-in-a lifetime news for Nottinghamshire.
“This will bring incredible benefits to the county and wider region, including millions, if not billions worth of investment, putting it at the heart of the government’s plans to revolutionise the way we generate energy in the UK.
“The site will be the international hub for carbon-neutral, fusion development, attracting the brightest minds locally and from across the world, boosting skills, training, and creating thousands of highly skilled jobs.
“We are an ambitious county and have a proud heritage of producing energy which helped power the industrial revolution, but now we will be at the heart of the UK green energy revolution too.
“The prototype site will be the first time fusion energy will be commercialised, so there’s big plans to sell this technology across the world, which means Nottinghamshire will be even more on the export map.
“This news positions Nottinghamshire and the region more firmly as major player in the levelling up agenda. And under our proposed East Midlands Mayoral Combined County Authority, adds strength to our calls to be considered for other world-leading economic projects in our region.
Councillor Keith Girling, chairman of the county council’s Economic Development and Asset Management Committee, added: “We are absolutely delighted. This is a fantastic achievement which will bring massive growth and investment, particularly to the north of the county.
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“We can look forward to thousands of new skilled jobs and lucrative opportunities for the local supply chain to help construct the plant.
“As global energy demand continues to grow, this technology is expected to play a crucial role in helping to achieve net zero emissions – in a safe and sustainable way – during the second half of this century.
“It’s incredible to think that Nottinghamshire will be at the heart of this, which is real boost to local pride.”
Nottinghamshire County Council coordinated the nomination process for the county working with several partners, including the site landowners EDF, Bassetlaw District Council, Midlands Engine, ERA and local LEPs.
Sir John Peace, Midlands Engine chairman, said: “The project is more than a power station – it will require an ecosystem of innovation and development and will become a global focus for fusion power.”
Matt Sykes, managing director of EDF’s Generation business, West Burton site owners, said: “Developing such an exciting new project continues this tradition and has the potential to transform both the region and the UK’s long term energy supply.”
Bassetlaw MP, Brendan Clarke-Smith, said: “This announcement is an absolute game changer for the area and truly shows levelling up in action.”
Councillor James Naish, Leader of Bassetlaw District Council, said: “I am delighted that the legacy of energy production in the Trent Valley will be continuing. West Burton A has delivered power across the nation for decades – and will now play a vital role in the UK’s transition to a greener, carbon neutral future. The project has strong local support
Professor Martin Freer, Director of the Energy Research Accelerator (ERA) based at Birmingham University, said: “Fusion has the potential to be transformative for the way we produce energy here in the UK. It could provide an almost limitless supply of safe, clean electricity and help with the toughest decarbonisation challenges.
Nick Cary, chairman of the West Burton Residents’ Planning Group, said: “It’s an exciting development of new technology and it will certainly help to put West Burton on the map.”
Dave Langmead, Sturton Le Steeple resident and West Burton Residents’ Planning Group member, said: “I am delighted that the STEP project will be sited within our parish. Residents have had a long and excellent relationship with energy producers here in the Trent Valley, and the opportunity for using the large West Burton site to continue this tradition has been warmly welcomed by those living and working in the area.”
UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) will be responsible for all aspects of the development, consenting, construction and operation of the facility. The construction of the prototype plant is due to start in the early 2030s and operational around 2040.
A community event at the West Burton site is a planned for Thursday 6 October 3-7pm.
UKAEA experts will be hand to answer questions and discuss plans so far for site. Further details of how residents can attend (and access the site) will be promoted in the coming days. This will be the first in a series of meetings with the local community
Full reactions from around the county and region includes:
Sir John Peace, Midlands Engine chairman.
“The Midlands Engine partnership welcomes the Government and UKAEA’s decision to choose West Burton as the site for its STEP fusion prototype. In an area which has long suffered from underinvestment, the site stands to play a crucial role in boosting local and regional economic activity, job creation and productivity. The project is more than a power station – it will require an ecosystem of innovation and development and will become a global focus for fusion power. This is an unrivalled opportunity to support our levelling up agenda by generating high quality jobs, building a first-class supply chain and further strengthening our regional skills base.
“We look forward to working with the UKAEA to make the project a success, both in solving our energy challenges, and driving green growth across the Midlands and beyond.”
Matt Sykes, managing director of EDF’s Generation business
“We are absolutely delighted that the UKAEA has selected the West Burton site in Nottinghamshire to host the UK’s first fusion reactor.
“The area has been associated with energy generation for over 60 years. Developing such an exciting new project continues this tradition and has the potential to transform both the region and the UK’s long term energy supply.”
Bassetlaw MP, Brendan Clarke-Smith
“Today is a proud day for us all and I am absolutely thrilled that the Conservative Government has chosen Bassetlaw to be the home of the first commercial STEP fusion plant. This is a world-leading project and will bring billions of pounds to the local economy. This also continues the long and proud tradition we have here in Bassetlaw with energy production. I want to say a huge thank you to the officers at Nottinghamshire County Council who put this bid together and helped us beat off fierce competition from other areas. I have been lobbying the Government with Cllr Ben Bradley MP to argue why the West Burton site would be ideal for this project and I am delighted they have agreed. This announcement is an absolute game changer for the area and truly shows levelling up in action.”
Cllr James Naish, Leader of Bassetlaw District Council
“As a resident and councillor for Sturton Ward where the STEP project will be sited, as well as the Leader of Bassetlaw District Council, I am delighted that the legacy of energy production in the Trent Valley will be continuing. West Burton A has delivered power across the nation for decades – and will now play a vital role in the UK’s transition to a greener, carbon neutral future.
The project has strong local support and I particularly want to highlight the role of the West Burton Residents’ Planning Group. This group of volunteers has met regularly for 18 months and its commitment to engaging the community and seeing the site quickly taken forward has been inspiring, and I want to pay tribute to each group member for their efforts.”
Professor Martin Freer, Director of the Energy Research Accelerator, based at Birmingham University
“We welcome today’s announcement of the selection of West Burton as home for the UK’s first STEP plant. The site is part of ‘Megawatt Valley’ and has been crucial to the UK’s power generation industry for decades.
“Fusion has the potential to be transformative for the way we produce energy here in the UK. It could provide an almost limitless supply of safe, clean electricity and help with the toughest decarbonisation challenges by using heat to manufacture hydrogen and synthetic clean fuels – other areas where our region and ERA have expertise. We look forward to building on our work with the UKAEA, bringing the region’s first-class skills and innovation capabilities to bear on this exciting project.”
Nick Cary, chairman of the West Burton Residents’ Planning Group
“I think it’s fantastic news that the UKAEA have chosen West Burton as the home of their STEP project. The region has such a rich history of energy production and it’s great to see that this will continue as the country phases into greener energy.
“It’s an exciting development of new technology and it will certainly help to put West Burton on the map. We’ll still be able to admire the cooling towers for a few more years but this new chapter will be very interesting to follow.”
Dave Langmead, Sturton Le Steeple resident, West Burton Residents’ Planning Group member
“As a resident of Sturton le Steeple for over 20 years and a member of the West Burton Residents’ Planning Group, I am delighted that the STEP project will be sited within our Parish. Residents have had a long and excellent relationship with energy producers here in the Trent Valley, and the opportunity for using the large West Burton site to continue this tradition has been warmly welcomed by those living and working in the area. As we move towards a greener future it is exciting to know that our small community will be at the forefront in hosting the development of fusion technology, along with the opportunities for economic development that the project will bring to the area.”
Professor Trevor McMillan OBE, Vice Chancellor of Keele University and chairman of the Midlands Innovation university partnership
“We are absolutely delighted that the new fusion power plant will be situated in our region. Our universities are all partners of the Energy Research Accelerator and each has a strong track record in energy research and innovation. “We can support the site both in terms of R&D capabilities, and by helping to train the skilled workforce required. In addition, the Energy Research Accelerator is also working with the Midlands Engine to establish a network to support this exciting and innovative industry.”
• West Burton named as site for UK’s first fusion energy power plant