14th October 2021

Statement from Council Leader Joe Cullinane following the announcement from the UK Atomic Energy Authority that the Ardeer peninsular site has been successful in moving to the next phase of the Spherical Tokamak for Energy Production shortlisting process. 

Councillor Cullinane said: “We welcome the news from the UK Atomic Energy Authority that the Ardeer peninsular site has been successful in moving to the next phase of the STEP (Spherical Tokamak for Energy Production) shortlisting process. This represents an exciting possibility for our area to be at the forefront of net carbon neutral innovation.

“Following completion of the Phase 1 assessment, UKAEA has announced that the Ardeer site along with four other locations across the UK will now move forward to the next stage of assessment.

“Ardeer fulfils many of the site selection criteria set out by the UKAEA, including its size, location, connections to transport networks, grid connectivity and access to skills and academic expertise – all of which will have played their part in Ardeer successfully moving into this next phase.

“The UKAEA has indicated that it will begin the next phase of assessment over the coming months, leading to a recommendation to the Secretary of State for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy in 2022.

“North Ayrshire Council was approached by the University of Glasgow to support a bid to explore the potential for the development of a fusion power plant within the Ardeer peninsular earlier this year, which was also backed by landowners NPL Group.

“The next phase of the rigorous assessment process will consider the likely opportunities and risks associated with deploying STEP at each of the shortlisted sites and involve community engagement to explain the proposals and gather feedback on local priorities, aspirations and concerns.

“STEP, supported by £222m in funding from the UK government, aims to design and construct a prototype fusion energy plant capable of providing a source of zero-carbon energy. The programme is targeting a concept design by 2024, with operations planned to begin around 2040.

“Such cutting-edge technology would bring substantial long-term economic benefits to our area, together with significant supply chain, innovation and educational possibilities.

“We will continue to work constructively with our partners in this process, ahead of the final siting decision and we maintain our commitment to keeping local community groups, organisations and stakeholders well informed as we move through this next stage.”