SOSE responds to STEP site announcement

South of Scotland Enterprise (SOSE) remains ambitious for Chapelcross as the news was released today (14 October) that the site has not been shortlisted as the potential future home of the UK’s prototype fusion energy plant - the Spherical Tokamak for Energy Production (or STEP).

SOSE revealed earlier this year that it had worked with partners to submit a nomination for STEP in March 2021, identifying that it would represent a major opportunity for the South of Scotland. 

In June this year, it was revealed that the former nuclear power plant near Annan had been shortlisted by the UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) as one of the potential locations for a new prototype fusion power plant.

Today, the UKAEA has announced that the site has, unfortunately, not made the next shortlist but stated that the site is clearly a good development opportunity for the future.   

SOSE has released a statement today, reassuring the South of Scotland that it remains ambitious for the site, and is committed to looking at options for the site, along with partners, which it had already been doing ahead of the STEP nomination.

SOSE’s Chair Professor Russel Griggs OBE, said: “This is obviously disappointing but with 15 sites in the running across the whole of the UK, we knew there was very strong competition.   

“Now we know the outcome of STEP, we can continue to focus on the future of Chapelcross along with our partners which we had already started to do before this.  

“It is by no means the end of the road for Chapelcross, in fact it’s quite the opposite. 

“With Chapelcross also being included in the investment options in the Borderlands Inclusive Growth Deal - this will further enhance the redevelopment opportunities for the future.”

“We are here to be bold and ambitious, and we believe there is huge potential for Chapelcross, despite this news today.”

SOSE Director of Place & Enterprise, Bryan McGrath explained: “We were already working closely with partners including Dumfries and Galloway Council and the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, to look at options for the redevelopment of Chapelcross. 

“That work will continue and, as the UKAEA has also identified, this site has strong features, and will certainly be appropriate for other development opportunities that will bring huge social and economic benefits to the area.”

Background and more information 

STEP is a UKAEA programme. The UKAEA carries out fusion energy research on behalf of the UK Government.

The final decision on the STEP site will be made by the Secretary of State at BEIS around the end of 2022   

You can view the UKAEA release here