BUSINESS leaders have welcomed the £700 million takeover of county based Horizon Nuclear Power and the huge jobs boost it will give Gloucestershire and beyond.
Experts says the international nuclear power station developer will create up to 12,000 jobs in the country – with around half of those expected to be in Gloucestershire.
A question mark had been hanging over the future of Horizon and its 100 staff at Gloucester Business Park after German owners RWE npower and E.ON put it up for sale earlier this year.
But last week's announcement that Japanese giant Hitachi is taking over Horizon will mean the rapid creation of between 200 to 300 new jobs at the company – with thousands of more jobs on the way as construction work gets under way.
Horizon has the contracts to develop new nuclear power stations at Oldbury-on-Severn in South Gloucestershire and Wylfa in North Wales.
The takeover also confirms Gloucester's growing importance for the nuclear power industry with EDF Energy, which owns eight UK power stations, based at Barnwood, and nuclear engineering specialist Frazer-Nash recently opening new offices at Elmbridge Court, Gloucester.
The Hitachi deal is expected to complete by the end of this month.
Horizon chief operating officer Alan Raymant said: "This is excellent news and marks the opening of an exciting new chapter for Horizon. Hitachi has a proven international track record in the construction and operation of nuclear power stations."
"We're very grateful to RWE npower and E.ON UK for the creation and development of Horizon to this point. We will now focus on fully remobilising the business, and working with our new owners to bring forward our plans as soon as possible."
He added: "This announcement is a major shot in the arm for the nuclear industry. We expect our projects to boost the UK's infrastructure sector, and contribute to sustainable economic developments at local level for decades to come.
"We're committed to working with all relevant bodies to maximise the opportunities for the UK and local labour markets and supply chain. I'd particularly like to thank the communities at Wylfa and Oldbury for their continued support, along with our first-rate team at Horizon which has remained committed over recent months."
David Owen, chief executive of GFirst, the economic partnership which drives Gloucestershire LEP (Local Enterprise Partnership), said: "Although this is just the start of the journey, the effect on the associated supply chain with such a major investment means that local businesses should start to think about the long term opportunities this might create.
"The LEP is setting up a project team with national and local partners to support these growth opportunities as they are presented and to develop local connections for what will be an extremely significant development."
"It will create much-needed skilled jobs in our county, while also recognising Gloucestershire as a real hub for nuclear excellence."