Toshiba downgrades outlook as reports warn it will slash jobs

Toshiba chairman and CEO Nobuaki Kurumatani attends a press conference in Tokyo. — AFP

Toshiba chairman and CEO Nobuaki Kurumatani attends a press conference in Tokyo. — AFP

THE £15 billion Moorside nuclear power station in Cumbria has been scrapped after having failed to secure a buyer.

Japanese conglomerate Toshiba announced Thursday it will no longer build a nuclear power plant on the West Cumbria coast in northwest England, and will liquidate its United Kingdom nuclear arm NuGen, Kallanish Energy reports.

The boss of struggling Toshiba said yesterday he would cut 7,000 jobs over the next five years as the Japanese engineering firm pulled out of foreign investments and downgraded its annual profit forecasts.

The proposed plant had been expected to start operating by the mid-2020s and to generate more than three gigawatts of electricity - enough to meet about 7 per cent of the UK's needs.

Kepco had said it wanted to use its own nuclear reactor design for the project, which has not been submitted for approval from Britain's nuclear regulator.

MPs, business leaders, councillors and unions have all called for the Government to intervene to keep NuGen and Moorside alive, although in a television interview at last month's Conservative Party Conference, Prime Minister Theresa May repeatedly dismissed it as a "commercial issue".

The former Japanese behemoth is going through a sweeping reform effort to revive itself following its disastrous acquisition of United States nuclear energy firm Westinghouse, which racked up billions of dollars in losses before being placed under bankruptcy protection.

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Toshiba announced this morning that it was taking the drastic step 18 months after it was left as the sole owner of NuGen, which had hoped to develop the Moorside site north of Sellafield.

"Nuclear has an important role to play as part of the UK's diverse energy mix as we transition to a low carbon economy, but in each case projects must provide value for money for consumers and taxpayers".

GMB union national officer, Justin Bowden, responded: "The British government has blood on its hands as the final sad but predictable nail is banged into the coffin of Toshiba's jinxed jaunt into nuclear power".

Sue Ferns, senior deputy general secretary of scientists' union Prospect, called for state intervention to save the scheme, saying the future of the United Kingdom nuclear industry was at stake.

The firm said it planned to release a new business plan later Thursday.

"This Government remains committed to new nuclear through the Industrial Strategy Nuclear Sector Deal as well as consenting the first new nuclear power station in a generation at Hinkley Point C". "United Kingdom offshore wind is already significantly cheaper than nuclear, with onshore and solar power offering even greater savings". "The long term future of this could be on the line if we can't move forward with building Moorside", she said.

It followed a discussion of Toshiba's board in Tokyo, and an official announcement was made in the early hours. "The end of the Moorside plan represents a failure of the government's nuclear gamble".

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