Copeland mayor hits out at temporary homes plan for Moorside workers
Plans for temporary accommodation to house nuclear workers have been slammed by Copeland's mayor.
Mike Starkie told a public meeting that he was "dead against" plans by NuGen to create three villages for construction workers building its Moorside nuclear power plant.
The mayor added that the incoming workers, estimated to be in the region of 4,000 people, should be "integrated into the community" rather than living in the vast temporary villages, planned for Mirehouse, Corkickle and Egremont.
Football pitches, a pub and even a cinema could be built as part of the huge contractor village.
Land at Mirehouse is the largest of three sites planned to house workers building the new Moorside nuclear power plant, with others earmarked for Egremont and land off Coach Road, Whitehaven.
The exact sites under consideration have now been confirmed as NuGen - the firm behind plans for the three-reactor plant on land next to Sellafield - looks to house the 4,000 workers expected to move into the area during construction, beginning in 2020.
The 166-acre Mirehouse site, on land off Mirehouse Road, is expected to house 2,500 in student-style single-person accommodation, with reserve space for 1,000 more if one or both of the other proposed villages isn't feasible.
Including a football pitch, sports facilities and a large entertainment centre that could include a cinema, pub and restaurant, it would have an 800-space car park with workers encouraged to use a shuttle coach to Moorside from an on-site terminal, or a train from the newly-built Mirehouse platform.
Mr Starkie, addressing a meeting in Mirehouse last night, said: "I support NuGen's proposals for Moorside itself as I think it can create the foundation for a better and more prosperous Copeland, but I do not want student accommodation and worker camps.
"I want to attract people to make Copeland their permanent home, and not their temporary residence.
"And that's why we're addressing town centre regeneration, housing, health and education - to make it more attractive for skilled people to come and stay here. "That's what we're negotiating for."
Access to the village would be from a road built from a new roundabout at Westlakes Science Park.
The Corkickle village would be over two pieces of land at the top of Coach Road.
Totalling 49 acres, it would house 1,000 workers but have space for 500 more.
It is planned for a stretch of land either side of Coach Road; between Low Road/Meadow View and the Recreation Ground on one side, and behind The Ginns on the other.
Access would be from Coach Road and there would be parking for 295 cars.
In Egremont, the site earmarked is a 40-acre piece of land to the left of the A595 northbound, before St Thomas Cross Roundabout.
Including 218 car parking spaces, it would house around 500 workers with space for 500 more.
Fergus McMorrow, NuGen's planning lead, said the facilities could remain when the workers move out at the end of construction, in around 2026.
He said: "Any planning permission for the worker accommodation sites that NuGen gets would last only until the project is complete, but the local authority or the community might feel at that time that some or all of it can be used in another way - and decisions will then be made at that time." Views are now being sought on the plans for Moorside, and its associated accommodation and transport schemes, during an 11-week public consultation.
NuGen is permitted to apply for compulsory purchase orders to buy up property or land to make way for its proposal, which could impact some close to its road improvement schemes.
Residents who have been affected in other ways, including noise or house devaluation, may be entitled to compensation.
NuGen says that it plans for the three-reactor plant on land next to Sellafield and its associated accommodation and transport scheme are only proposals and members of the public can give their views during a consultation which runs until July.
Mr Starkie said: "What's being proposed is just the start of the consultation process. I'm more concerned what it looks like at the end."
Pat Graham, Copeland's managing director, urged residents to make their views known.
She added: "The council is a consultee - as all of you are - and we're here to understand your concerns as our response to NuGen will be a response on your behalf."