West Cumbria economy 'reliant' on Sellafield nuclear plant

Image source, PA
Image caption,
Sellafield is a nuclear fuel reprocessing and nuclear decommission site

Three out of every five jobs in west Cumbria depend upon the Sellafield plant, a report has found.

Research by analysis company Oxford Economics also revealed the average wage for its workers is nearly £10,000 above the national average.

But with reprocessing winding down in the coming decades there are concerns about an over-reliance on the plant.

The firm is working with local councils and businesses to look at ways of diversifying the economy in the future.

Sellafield, which is owned by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, stores nearly all of the UK's nuclear waste.

Reprocessing involves separating out the reusable uranium and plutonium from the high level waste, and making it available to new customers.

Work on the final plant is scheduled to end in 2020.

Image source, Google
Image caption,
The old bus station will be converted into a business hub

Jamie Reed, head of corporate affairs at Sellafield Ltd, said: "The long-standing economic challenges facing west Cumbria are understood by all of us who live and work here - and one of the biggest is over-reliance on the nuclear industry.

"This isn't purely Sellafield's problem to fix - but we know that we have a role to play.

"Nuclear will always play a big role, but as we continue to make progress on cleaning up the site, we can shape a future that offers new economic opportunities beyond the nuclear industry."

The company has already announced it is to invest £2.6m to convert Whitehaven's derelict bus station into a hub for start-up businesses.

Copeland Borough Council's Mayor, Mike Starkie, said: "The bus station is especially significant as it will help to establish growth in non-nuclear businesses coming into the area.

"We have find growth industries, like digital, so that we can move away from relying completely on nuclear."

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