Plans for the development of new nuclear power stations in the UK are gathering pace with two Scottish utilities becoming the latest companies to join forces to participate in the programme.

Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) and Iberdrola-owned Scottish Power have announced plans to form a joint venture for the UK’s new nuclear build programme. Their move follows that of German firms E.On and RWE, which recently declared a similar venture.

SSE and Scottish Power say that their initial aim will be to secure sites for new build through the auction process being handled by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA). They may also consider adding partners to the joint venture in the future.

“We accept that one more tranche of nuclear power stations is necessary for the UK’s energy policy goals from around the end of the next decade,” said Alistair Phillips-Davies, SSE’s Energy Supply Director. “We also recognise that we will have to continue to be able to source power generated from nuclear stations if we are to be able to meet our customers’ energy needs in the long term.”

The two firms say that they will not be bound to any single vendor for new nuclear development.

The NDA has initiated the sale of three sites around the UK, and is aiming to announce the winning bidders by the end of March.

France’s EDF is seen as a frontrunner in the development of new capacityowing to its recent acquisition of British Energy, which already owns a number of key sites. EDF has announced plans to construct four EPR-based nuclear plants in the UK, while RWE and E.On say they want to build at least 6 GW of new capacity.