Local authority leaders have welcome news that a major new Rolls-Royce factory could be coming to the region.

Three sites in the North East have been shortlisted for a 200-job factory to help build the next generation of nuclear plants.

A division of Rolls-Royce has announced a list of potential locations for its factory - the first of three and the one which will manufacture the ‘heavy vessels’ for its Small Modular Reactor (SMR) power station.

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The factory is expected to be around 23,000 square metres in size – equivalent to three football pitches, will cost around £100-£200 million and will create long-term high-skilled jobsConstruction will begin once Rolls-Royce SMR receives the go-ahead to build a fleet of SMRs in the UK.

Cllr Tracey Dixon, leader of South Tyneside Council, said: “It is great news to be shortlisted and testament to what a fantastic asset IAMP is proving to the region.

“With the next phase of IAMP underway in South Tyneside, attracting a global leader such as Rolls-Royce would build on our position at the forefront of the green revolution.

“Alongside our partners at Sunderland City Council, we have worked hard to ensure IAMP goes from strength to strength, continuing to attract investors and delivering more jobs and opportunities for local people.”

Cllr Graeme Miller, leader of Sunderland City Council, said: “It is fantastic that Rolls-Royce has confirmed IAMP as a potential site for its first small modular reactor factory.

“IAMP has already secured significant investment from companies across the globe and this latest announcement is vindication that the site continues to set the benchmark for advanced manufacturing hubs of the future.”

Tees Valley was a possible contender for one of the sites- and may still be considered for the power plants themselves.

Mayor Ben Houchen, said: “Securing the first Rolls-Royce Small Modular Reactor factory for Teesside would have been a fantastic addition to our region’s clean energy credentials, but there are still another two factories that need to be built as part of the project.

“From developing hydrogen as a fuel of the future, pioneering carbon capture and spearheading the next generation of offshore wind technology, across Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool we’re securing the investments that are delivering the cleaner, healthier and safer jobs of the future.”

The shortlist was picked from over 100 submissions from Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) and development agencies. 

The locations of the final shortlisted sites are: 

North East – IAMP Sunderland  

Forrest Park Newton Aycliffe

North Yorkshire – Catterick 53, Richmond

Wales – Gateway, Deeside 

Yorkshire - Ferrybridge

Greater Lincolnshire - Grimsby & Pioneer Park, Stallingborough

Cumbria – Kingmoor Park, Carlisle

Secretary of State for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy, Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng MP, said: “This is fantastic news for Sunderland, North Yorkshire, Deeside, Lincolnshire and Carlisle which, if these SMRs go ahead, could be at the forefront of manufacturing components for this British-made tech.

“Backed by £210m, SMRs have the potential to provide quicker and cheaper low-carbon nuclear power, and today’s announcement underlines the potential for new jobs around the country created by embracing this new technology.”

Rolls-Royce SMR Chief Executive, Tom Samson, said: “I would like to thank everyone who sent in a submission suggesting locations in their region for the first Rolls-Royce SMR factory. The response was fantastic and shows the ambition and appetite of the UK to build and operate a fleet of SMRs which will provide affordable, low-carbon electricity for generations to come. 

“The final location will come from the shortlist and will result in significant investment, long-term high-skilled jobs and will support the UK Government’s aspirations for levelling-up. This announcement is another example of the pace of our project and why Rolls-Royce SMR is the UK’s domestic nuclear energy champion.”

Rolls-Royce SMR’s approach is a completely different way of building nuclear power stations, where 90% of the Rolls-Royce SMR built in factory conditions significantly reducing the timescales and project risk.

The other two factories will manufacture civils modules and mechanical electrical and plumbing (MEP) modules – which will be transported to sites and assembled into a nuclear power station that will generate 470MW of low-carbon electricity. These locations will be selected from the full list of submissions – giving all locations further opportunities to host a Rolls-Royce SMR factory.