By Anna Whittaker, Local Democracy Reporter
A Nottinghamshire power station has been cut from a shortlist of places which could become a pioneering fusion energy site.
The Ratcliffe-on-Soar site in Rushcliffe had a one-in-five chance of being part of the ‘green industrial revolution’ after the power station is decommissioned in 2024.
But the agency in charge of selecting a base for the UK’s first fusion energy centre has now cut it from the running.
However, another Nottinghamshire site is back on the shortlist, as a site known as ‘West Burton A’, in Retford, will instead be considered to host the STEP (Spherical Tokamak for Energy Production) fusion project.
Fusion produces a source of clean electricity by copying the processes that power the sun – and the new site could be built as soon as 2040, if scientists can finalise the technology.
The UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA), which is running the programme, announced on January 21 that it will “cease assessment” of the Rushcliffe site due to “land availability”.
Fusion produces a source of clean electricity by copying the processes that power the sun – and the new site could be built as soon as 2040.
Councillor James Naish (Lab), ward councillor for West Burton, told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “I’m pleased to see that the potential of the West Burton site is, once again, recognised by stakeholders. My priority now is to make sure that the local community is consulted as the evaluation process continues.
“Whatever the outcome with this particular option for the site, I know that lots of residents – and the West Burton Residents’ Planning Group in particular – have a positive vision for the future of West Burton A, and we look forward to being engaged by stakeholders about the project over the next few months.”
The announcement comes after plans were revealed earlier this week for a ‘gigafactory’ on the Ratcliffe-on-Soar site, to produce batteries for electric vehicles.
The land is also set to house an incinerator and HS2 lines will terminate at the nearby East Midlands Parkway.
Tris Denton, STEP’s Head of Commercial and Programme Development, said: “Ratcliffe is a very good site with several potential development options and plans. However, with new information now before us on land availability we think other sites on our shortlist will likely be more suitable for the specific needs of the STEP programme. As such we will not be continuing assessment at this location, but we’d like to thank Uniper and the other parties involved in the nomination for the excellent collaboration and support to date.
“The site of the West Burton A coal fired power station, also in Nottinghamshire, was also proposed as a candidate for STEP and has been held in reserve based on a number of strong features.
“The potential for this site to compare favourably with the remaining sites on our shortlist means that we will now restart assessment at this site to further consider its merits. This will maintain the strength and diversity of the options we have. We look forward to continuing to work with the nominating partnership, including Nottinghamshire County Council and the site owner, EDF.”
Nottinghamshire County Council leader Ben Bradley MP added: “While we would have loved to have two local sites on the shortlist, the future of the Ratcliffe- on-Soar site as a whole is still looking very bright.
“It is earmarked as one of the three main sites for attracting investment and growth under ambitious plans led by the East Midlands Development Company. The vision is for it to become a hub for technology, advanced manufacturing and energy.
“So all-in-all this is still a positive result for Nottinghamshire having West Burton A now included in the final five.”