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£800m vision

Section:  Annan and Eskdale, Lockerbie and Lochmaben  | Tags: , , , , , ,

UP TO £800 million is expected to be invested in the Chapelcross site over the next few decades, resulting in the creation of thousands of new jobs.

As phase two of the CX Project now kicks off, more details on the ambitious vision for the future of the former nuclear power plant have been revealed. And the team behind it, which comprises council officials and elected members, are confident they can make it a reality.

Explaining more, Dumfries and Galloway Council manager for strategic projects Jason Syers said: “Phase two deals with the re-purposing of the site and looking at the potential to create development opportunities in the site that become a key economic driver for the south of Scotland.”

At 200 hectares – bigger than the whole of Annan – they believe it could potentially be a “big employment draw”. Mr Syers noted it is being seen as a key part of the Borderlands Initiative, with benefits for both sides of the border. The next six months will see work taking place on the design, with the aim of developing “a place based, mixed industrial site”, rather than just a straightforward energy or business park. He said: “What we are looking to do is create something which has a sense of place to it. There will be industrial buildings and big sheds, but we are looking to ensure the space between buildings is very high quality and it’s a place designed around people.”

And he revealed inquiries are already being received about the site, adding: “There’s been a flow of interest around the site which is constant, with businesses looking to relocate and expand. Some local, others from outside. “I would anticipate that would continue.”

Describing it as “a huge project” for the south of Scotland, Mr Syers revealed the gross development value is being estimated at £800m for the complete build, a mixture of public and private money. “That’s a value of all the development on site,” he said. “It’s difficult to say numbers at this time. We are certainly juggling a number of different priorities that could influence the scale of the development. There will be large businesses and small and the important part to that is it’s not the size of them, it’s the mix. It’s that that will provide economic stability and sustainable growth in different sectors.”

However, it is going to take at least 20 years to come to fruition and the job creation, which could ultimately number up to 2500 posts, will be phased over a period of time, stress officials. Mr Syers added: “We have to be measured about how people perceive that it would happen. It would happen over a period of time, not overnight. We hope for a mix of high paid jobs and maintenance type jobs, skilled and non skilled opportunities.”

Councillor Archie Dryburgh sits on the project team and said: “If we continue to work how we have been working in the past few years there’s a massive opportunity that we can’t miss. We have got to grasp it with both hands and take it forward.”

Dumfriesshire MP David Mundell is also involved, adding: “We are in a good place. It’s about continuing to develop the proposal. “It offers an economic future for the area at a time when there’s the potential investment to make it happen. I think it’s capable of being realised if everyone continues to work together.”

And a spokesman for the NDA added: “As owners of the Chapelcross site we have a responsibility to the community to mitigate the effects of the decommissioning and were one of the funders of phase one of the Chapelcross project, ‘Beyond Chapelcross’. We have been delighted with the success of phase one which did so much in the community. Phase two focuses on making use of the large amount of land in our ownership that is not needed for site clean up work. We will again work with the council and Scottish Enterprise to make this phase a success, bringing much needed jobs to the area. It isn’t a quick fix but through working in partnership, we will make good progress.”

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