Specialist police officers who protect Sellafield have lost a High Court battle over a new pension scheme.

Armed police officers who patrol the site could be made to work five years longer than other officers after losing the challenge yesterday.

The Civil Nuclear Police Federation said that the change, due in April, would leave the Civil Nuclear Constabulary “out of step” with the vast majority of other officers.

A hearing, which took place last week, asked for a declaration that the Civil Nuclear Constabulary (CNC) were “members of a police force” for the purposes of the Public Service Pensions Act 2013 and that their pension age must be 60 like most other officers.

However, Mrs Justice Nicola Davies dismissed the claim. It was argued the operational demands on officers in other territorial forces were much more variable and there were likely to be posts they could move to if they did not meet the highest standards.

But that did not apply to the CNC, who were intended to be a 100 per cent firearms capability force and had to maintain the highest standards.

Distinguishing between them and other territorial forces was unnecessary and produced an unreasonable result, said their lawyers.

Civil Nuclear Police Federation (CNPF) chief executive Nigel Dennis has said that it was almost physically impossible for a CNC officer to serve beyond 60.

The judge ruled that the members of the CNC were not “members of a police force” for the purposes of Section 10 of the 2013 Act.

In her judgment, she said that counsel for the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, who was an interested party in the case, had informed the court that it was Parliament’s intention that within the meaning of the 2013 Act the police forces should be confined to territorial forces, as contemplated by the Police Act 1996.

Counsel had said that no final decision had been made as to what would be the terms of the future pension scheme to be applied to the CNC.

The provisions of such a scheme would be subject to the constraints of legislation.

The federation is now calling for a meeting with the Energy Minister, Baroness Neville-Rolfe, to establish the way forward.