LONDON May 1 Japan's Toshiba and France's GDF Suez have reached an agreement on key terms with Britain's Nuclear Decommissioning Authority to manage the land at Sellafield where the companies plan to build three new nuclear reactors.
The agreement marks an important step in Britain's bid to construct a new generation of nuclear plants and shows Toshiba's commitment to its British joint venture which it bought into by taking over Iberdrola's stake only four months ago.
"The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority has reached an agreement with Toshiba and its partner GDF Suez on the key commercial terms of an updated option agreement for land in the NDA's ownership at Moorside near Sellafield," the government body said in a statement.
The option agreement on the nuclear site, which the joint venture bought in 2009 for 19.5 million pounds, was due to expire soon and the government had considered re-opening the site for auction due to slow progress before Toshiba got involved.
The NuGen joint venture plans to start operating its first new nuclear reactor at the Moorside site in 2024 and estimates 21,000 people will be directly and indirectly employed during the plant's construction phase.
Britain's existing nuclear power plants are ageing and in need of replacement.
Next to NuGen, two other groups, France's EDF together with French partner Areva and Japan's Hitachi, have also announced nuclear new build projects.
With two Japanese companies planning to build new nuclear plants in Britain, Japan is a vital nuclear partner for Britain.
"The (British) Prime Minister ... welcomed the progress made on investment into a new nuclear power station at Moorside," David Cameron's office said following his meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in London. (Reporting by Karolin Schaps; Editing by Mark Potter)