The prospective new operator of Dounreay will trim at least £500million off the cost of completing the decommissioning of the site, the company claimed yesterday.
The scale of the saving to the taxpayer was revealed as Babcock Dounreay Partnership (BDP) was installed as the preferred bidder to manage the £2billion-plus clean-up.
Babcock defeated fellow Anglo-American consortium Caithness Solutions after a two-year competition.
The exercise was run by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) as part of the government’s drive to privatise the running of its defunct civil nuclear sites.
While it will continue to be owned by the NDA, it will be run from the start of April by an exclusively private-sector management team.
The successful consortium comprises Babcock Nuclear Services Ltd and major US corporations, CH2M Hill and URS.
Both consortiums spent millions of pounds preparing their technical cases and making their pitches to land the lucrative contract at the former fast reactor complex west of Thurso.
No closure date was cited yesterday but it is likely to be set in the mid-to-late 2020s.
NDA spokesman Bill Hamilton said the vast majority of the 876-strong DSRL workforce would be unaffected by the takeover.
Davie Alexander, the trade union group chairman for DSRL, said it had been assured its terms and conditions would not change.
“It’s business as usual for the workforce,” he said yesterday.”
Far north MSP Rob Gibson said: “Babcock will hold a critical role in helping shape the future of Caithness.
Caithness Chamber of Commerce chief executive Trudy Morris said: “We would welcome the news that the preferred bidder has been announced as it has been a long two years of uncertainty for the site and the local supply chain.”