IT HAS been announced the government is to buy land at Oldbury Power Station.

The Chancellor Jeremy Hunt MP announced today, as part of his Spring Budget, a £160 million deal to acquire land at Oldbury and another site in North Wales.

Mr Hunt said: “I can announce this week the government has reached agreement on a £160 million deal with Hitachi to purchase the Wylfa site and the Oldbury site in South Gloucestershire.” 

It is believed the Oldbury site could be used as a location for small modular reactors (SMRs), which should be quicker and cheaper to construct than traditional nuclear power plants.

A single SMR has been estimated to be able to power one million homes for 60 years while a UK wide rollout could create 40,000 new jobs.

Great British Nuclear is currently running a competition for the selection of SMRs.

The government said it was now moving to the next stage of the process with six companies invited to submit their initial tender responses by June this year.

Gazette Series: The Chancellor Jeremy Hunt announced in the Budget - the government will buy Oldbury Power Station as part of a £160M deal The Chancellor Jeremy Hunt announced in the Budget - the government will buy Oldbury Power Station as part of a £160M deal (Image: House of Commons / Parliament)

“Pivotal moment”

Tom Greatrex, chief executive of the Nuclear Industry Association said the purchase of the Wylfa and Oldbury sites was a “pivotal moment” for the future of nuclear in the UK.

“Wylfa is one of the very best sites for new nuclear anywhere in Europe and there is great promise for a series of SMRs at Oldbury.

“The success of ramping up nuclear capacity for energy security and net zero rests a great deal on whether we develop at these sites and others,” he said.

He also said he hoped the work on the next phase of the SMR selection process was “swift and thorough” so the UK did not fall behind other countries in delivering a nuclear programme.

"A significant next step"

The news has also been welcomed by leaders in the region including from the Western Gateway partnership who say Oldbury forms part of their vision for a Low Carbon Energy Park.

It is hoped local authorities, landowners and businesses will come together to deliver net zero technology and green jobs at the Severn Edge sites in Oldbury and in Berkeley. 

Cllr Claire Young, leader of South Gloucestershire Council and board member of the Western Gateway said: “The site at Oldbury has long been identified in national policy as suitable for new nuclear, clean energy generation.  

“This announcement of investment in making that a reality is very welcome. 

“This will help our journey to net zero and we would expect this project to create significant numbers of high-quality education, training, skills and employment opportunities for local people in the construction, R&D and running of any new facilities."

Gazette Series: Oldbury nuclear power station under construction in 1962Oldbury nuclear power station under construction in 1962 (Image: Magnox)

Today’s news follows the recent £10m investment of a Consortium led by Chiltern Vital Group including Rolls Royce SMR and University of Bristol at the Berkeley Science and Technology Park. 

As the second part of the Severn Edge sites, this park encourages connected training, skills, nuclear and low carbon energy innovation to support the delivery of this new generation of nuclear development. 

Ms Young added: “SGC has been working with the Western Gateway and partners to create a shared low carbon energy park vision linking Oldbury & Berkeley as ‘Severn Edge’ which has seen Rolls Royce SMR recently announced as a consortium partner in Berkeley.

"This announcement is a significant next step in realising our collective vision for energy generation, skills and innovation.”

Cllr Mark Hawthorne, leader of Gloucestershire County Council and vice-chair of the Western Gateway said: “This is exactly what the Western Gateway’s Severn Edge Vision was designed to enable. 

“Our vision is of a site which can help develop new skills and clean energy jobs powered by a boost of investment into our communities. 

“Severn Edge is ready to be seen as a world leader in new SMR technology and we look forward to working with the UK Government and industry to deliver a greener, fairer future.” 

The Western Gateway is a regional partnership for South Wales and Western England, bringing together leaders and businesses to create economic growth and reach net zero.

Oldbury Nuclear Power Station was first opened in 1967 and is located close to the village Oldbury-on-Severn near Thornbury. 

After 44 years of operation, the twin reactor station closed in 2012 and was fuel free by 2016.