THE CABINET Minister for Government Policy has visited Berkeley to see the proposed site for a new manufacturing and engineering education centre.

West Dorset MP Oliver Letwin visited the old laboratories at Berkeley Nuclear Power Station which may become the home of the Gloucestershire Renewable Energy, Engineering & Nuclear (GREEN) Skills Centre project.

South Gloucestershire and Stroud College (SGS) has made a bid for £5million in order to create the education centre for 400 apprentices.

Bidding through the G First Local Enterprise Partnership, the money will help lease several buildings at the station and will be used to refurbish existing engineering buildings to provide training and business start-up facilities.

In addition a conference centre and exhibition space will be created with low carbon building methods, energy generation and energy efficiency.

The idea is, as well as training students entering college, it would also help train those that would eventually take jobs at the nuclear power stations being built in Oldbury and Hinkley in Somerset.

Mr Letwin said it was splendid to see such an exciting plan to foster local growth. “Our long term economic plan crucially involves developing both nuclear and other low carbon technologies,” he said.

“Imaginative re-use of this site is an ideal way to provide both training in the skills that will be required and a base for new firms to create secure local jobs.”

Stroud MP Neil Carmichael said he proposed the idea for a skills centre at the old power station site at Berkeley in 2010.

He invited Mr Letwin to meet with SGS College principal Kevin Hamblin, Stroud District Council chief executive David Hagg, G First business manager Martin Bruton and head of property at the Nuclear Decommissioning Agency, David Atkinson.

“When I first became an MP I began looking into how we could utilise Berkeley Power Station to develop skills for the engineering sector, and three years ago I organised a meeting with key stakeholders to this end.

“I am delighted at how much progress has been made, and with Oliver Letwin’s obvious interest in the GREEN Centre project.”

The project forms part of GFirst’s Strategic Economic Plan (SEP), and if funding is secured the University of Gloucestershire and SGS College hope to offer training in the spring of 2015.

Mr Hamblin said: “It is great that a minister has taken time to visit a project which will look to develop engineers for the future, in both general engineering and also in nuclear and renewables.”