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NDA award £1.2M to ‘Beyond Chapelcross’ project
27 May 2011
A £1.2 million funding package to stimulate the local economy in Annandale and Eskdale has been announced by the Corridor Regeneration Steering (CoReS) Group.
The funding was awarded from the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority's (NDA) Socio-Economic Fund and marks the culmination of nearly two years work on developing a 5-year transition support project to help offset the impacts of the eventual closure of the former Chapelcross nuclear power station.
'Beyond Chapelcross' will be delivered by Magnox Limited, Chapelcross in partnership with the Economic Development Department of Dumfries & Galloway Council.
The project will provide significant additional resources to help strengthen and diversify the local business base in the Gretna – Lockerbie – Annan (GLA) Triangle, as well as the wider Annandale & Eskdale Region, and unlock more than £1 million of local town regeneration projects. Support will also be targeted at helping to mitigate the loss of approximately 300 skilled jobs over the next five years at the former nuclear power station near Annan.
The main elements of the project are:
- The creation of two dedicated posts – a GLA Business Adviser and GLA Projects Officer - to deliver business advice and support, develop projects from the Gretna and Annan Masterplans, and develop the Lockerbie Masterplan.
- Assisting the Chapelcross site transition team to support employees whose jobs will be at risk to identify potential employment opportunities in the region.
- Providing support and advice to existing businesses within the GLA area, thereby helping to strenghten and diversify the local economy and mitigate the economic effects of reduced employment at Chapelcross.
- Expanding opportunities for direct financial support for local businesses through the Chapelcross Business Support Grant, which will provide match funding for businesses within Annandale and Eskdale. The Business Adviser will assist and support the businesses in the application process and in seeking available match funding opportunities.
- Supporting the development and delivery of projects to improve infrastructure for local businesses in the three towns, including support for community and business inclusion and consultation.
- Signposting businesses to research and innovation opportunities – matching businesses with appropriate academic advice to research or prepare products for market.
- In recognition that the young people of the area are crucial to the future of the region the Project also provides funding for the extension to a full-time post of the Prince's Scottish Youth Business Trust (PSYBT) Regional Manager to provide advice and support to young people who are seeking self employment opportunities and working in partnership with secondary schools to raise awareness of entrepreneurial opportunities.
NDA Director of Communications and Stakeholder Relations, Jon Phillips, said
"The NDA is committed to supporting efforts to mitigate the local impact of decommissioning and is delighted to be making this contribution to the Annandale and Eskdale area. The accelerated timescale for the transition of Chapelcross demonstrates that we are making tangible progress in decommissioning across our estate but we recognise that this will have an impact on the local economy and workforce. Under the leadership of Magnox Limited, working in partnership with Dumfries & Galloway Council, the 'Beyond Chapelcross' initiative will provide significant support to the local economy as decommissioning enters its next phase."
Chair of Dumfries & Galloway Council's Planning and Environment Committee, Councillor Roger Grant commented
"The commitment of £1.2 million from the NDA Socio-Economic Fund is extremely important for the communities of Annan, Lockerbie and Gretna as the workforce at Chapelcross reduces. This project will support a major workforce transition in the next few years and will go a long way in helping to sustain and develop small businesses and communities within Annandale and Eskdale following the decommissioning of Chapelcross."
Chapelcross Site Director, John Grierson said
"Magnox Limited is committed to ensuring that there is a smooth transition when employees voluntarily leave Chapelcross over the next five years and move onto pastures new. We are due to see a reduction of approximately 100 staff at the end of defuelling in 2012 and a further 200 plus staff going when major decommissiong projects are completed by 2017. We have already set up a Chapelcross Transition Sub-Group in conjunction with the Trade Unions on site which will work closely with the 'Beyond Chapelcross' Project. Wages alone at Chapelcross contributes nearly £30 million into the local economy each year, so with 80% of our workforce living within 9 miles of the site ( the Gretna – Lockerbie – Annan Triangle) then there is going to be an obvious detrimental impact on the local economy unless we put measures in place now to counteract this."
Since the former nuclear power station ceased generating in 2004, Chapelcross has been undertaking a programme of defuelling and decommissioning on the site. Currently, approximately 400 employees are undertaking this major programme of care and maintenance preparatory works. Under the current site lifetime plan, staffing levels are set to reduce by approximately 300 by 2017 when Chapelcross enters into a phase of minimal activity, known as interim care and maintenance, when a workforce of only 50-60 will be required. The timeframe has been brought forward from the original date of 2022 due to the Magnox Optimised Decommissioning Programme (MODP) which adopts a more flexible approach to decommissioning across the ten Magnox Limited sites.
Councillor Ian Lindsay, Chairman of the Chapelcross SSG said, "On behalf of stakeholders and the local community I am delighted with this latest award from the NDA which demonstrates their commitment to putting in the building blocks to repair the cracks that would appear in our fragile economy due to the job losses at Chapelcross over the next 5 years. By providing the funding to allow us to implement measures now to counteract this we can build our economy and at the same time ensure a smooth transition for the 300 plus workers that will be leaving Chapelcross in the not too distant future."