Chapelcross progress highlighted at two parliaments

SHAPING a future for the former nuclear power station at Chapelcross has been in the spotlight at both the Scottish and UK Parliaments.

Executives from site owners, the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA), last week held a meeting with local MP and Scottish Secretary David Mundell at Westminster to brief him on progress.

Meanwhile, on Tuesday evening, Dumfriesshire constituency MSP Oliver Mundell was a sponsor of an NDA presentation at Holyrood by the NDA outlining their work on nuclear sites north of the border.

It was disclosed that NDA spending on all clean-up work at Scottish nuclear sites was currently running at £280m a year.

The organisation's annual budget for Chapelcross alone in the financial year from 2016 to 2017 was £47 million with up to 300 people remaining employed at the Annan site which closed as a power station in 2004.

Other recent NDA milestones at Chapelcross included:

* The removal of 3000 tonnes of asbestos completed.

* One spent fuel storage pond emptied of radioactive fuel and drained.

* Equipment installed to process waste from a second storage pond.

* A new storage facility for intermediate level waste constructed on site in line with Scottish Government radioactive waste policy.

* Structural steelwork and ducting removed from around 16 boilers.

* Regeneration initiatives spending since 2011 in the Chapelcross area reaching £1.7 million.

David Mundell welcomed the opportunity to discuss the latest progress on the 190 hectare Annan site with NDA chief executive David Peattie and chairman Tom Smith.

After the meeting, he said: “As well as discussing the changes to the structure of Magnox and how to keep as many jobs on the Chapelcross site for as long a period as possible, I also sought assurances that the NDA would press ahead with the disposal of the surplus land at the site to the Council for economic development. 

"Creating new business space is vital to sustaining the local economy as Chapelcross decommissions. 

"There are ambitious plans for part of the site as part of the Borderlands Growth Deal and I wanted to make sure they are still on course."

Mr Mundell stated that the NDA chief executive planned to visit the Annan site next week.

He added: "I am sure he will hear how important this project is, particularly in the context of the possible Pinneys’ closure and detrimental effect it will have on the local economy.”

Following the Holyrood meeting, Oliver Mundell observed that a clearer vision for the site was emerging as the run-up to the predicted 2028 nuclear site closure approached.

The MSP acknowledged the work of the NDA, council, Scottish Enterprise and various other agencies such as the Corridor Regeneration Steering Group (CoReS) in attempting to minimise the impact of job losses.

Mr Mundell said: "They have avoided the local economy going off a cliff edge by avoiding too many people leaving jobs at the site at once.

"As many local people as possible have continued to be employed on the site during the decommissioning process.

"They have worked to encourage new business starts and helped diversify the local economy."

He added that with ongoing uncertainty over the Annan Pinneys' factory future, where up to 700 jobs could potentially disappear in a short period, efforts needed to be stepped up to stabilise the economy.

During the Scottish Parliament presentation, Dumfries and Galloway Council chief executive Gavin Stevenson outlined the work of the Beyond Chapelcross project.