Toshiba is to wind up its nuclear arm, which was leading a project to build a new power station in the UK.
The decision by the Japanese firm’s board is a huge blow to plans for a nuclear plant at Moorside in Cumbria.
Unions criticised the government for not intervening to ensure the project went ahead.
Toshiba said its NuGen business would start being wound up in the new year. In a statement from Tokyo, it said: “After considering the additional costs entailed in continuing to operate NuGen, Toshiba recognises that the economically rational decision is to withdraw from the UK nuclear power plant construction project, and has resolved to take steps to wind up NuGen.”
NuGen said the announcement came after 18 months of negotiations with a range of potential new owners. “Unfortunately, it has not been possible to successfully conclude those negotiations. NuGen has retained a team to support the implementation of a winding-up process and will work with Toshiba and its other stakeholders,” it said.
“While NuGen will not be taking the project forward, the Moorside site in Cumbria remains a site designated by government for nuclear new-build, and it is now for the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, as the owner of the site, and the government to determine its future.”
Justin Bowden, a national officer of the GMB union, said: “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.
“Relying in this way on foreign companies for our country’s essential energy needs was always irresponsible. Add to that the multiple opportunities to step in and take control, that were missed or ignored.
“In the wreckage that passes for a joined-up UK energy policy, the question now is whether government has finally learned the mistakes of Moorside. A new nuclear power station in west Cumbria remains vital for the UK’s future energy security and requires urgent action.
“The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority must be immediately given a role for nuclear development and tasked with developing a small modular nuclear reactor on site, tapping into the wealth of nuclear experience and expertise in the area and ensuring we have security of supply in years to come.”