Unions have called for clarity in the future of the Moorside nuclear reactor as sources say South Korea's Kepco, the most likely buyer, is in no hurry to seal the deal.
The state-backed firm had last month revealed interest in taking over Toshiba's 60 per cent stake in NuGen, the company behind the new build, but after Engie backed out of the project yesterday, pressure has mounted on Kepco for a quick decision.
Toshiba is keen to sell the Cumbrian project as it faces crippling financial losses due to writedowns on its US nuclear arm, Westinghouse, which filed for bankruptcy last month.
"Both Britain and Toshiba, they seem to be in a greater hurry than we thought and pushing Kepco. In fact, it requires considerable time to review a project, so it is not a matter that can be done hastily," sources told Reuters.
Business secretary Greg Clark is in Seoul for talks with Kepco and energy ministry officials, but in a briefing he said the decision on Moorside is for NuGen to make.
The three-reactor plant, which is due to supply seven per cent of the UK's electricity needs from 2025, is a vital piece of the UK's plans for a new generation of reactors to maintain energy security.
Unite, the UK's largest union, said Moorside needs "substantial public investment" to ensure it proceeds on schedule.
Kevin Coyne, Unite's national officer for energy, said: "Unite has repeatedly warned the government that the lights could go out in the future without a coherent, joined-up energy policy.
"We appear to be lurching from confusion to potential chaos – and this is a cause for serious concern.
"The private sector has not made a great success of Moorside to date," Coyne said.
Chris Jukes, senior organiser for the GMB union, urged the government and NuGen to provide clarity on the future of the project.
Jukes said there's too much at stake for the project, billed as the biggest nuclear plant in western Europe, not to go ahead.