Berkeley Green science and technology park buyer revealed

South Gloucestershire and Stroud College is selling its Berkeley Green science and technology park to Chiltern Vital Group, which plans to create a new 'low-carbon energy super cluster' on the site.

By Chloe Gorman  |  Published
SGS College has revealed that Chiltern Vital Group is the preferred bidder for Berkeley Green science and technology park.

Chiltern Vital Group (CVG) has been revealed as the preferred bidder to buy Berkeley Green science and technology park, with South Gloucestershire and Stroud College signing Heads of Terms for the strategic disposal of the site this January 2024.

The sale is subject to due diligence and contract but paves the way for significant commercial investment into the campus, which could be transformed into a new nuclear power facility — with SGS and its on-site University Technical College playing an important role. 

SGS College's CEO, Kevin Hamblin, said: 'The possible acquisition of SGS Berkeley by this energy consortium would not just be a transaction; it would create a partnership that embodies a mutual commitment to spearheading innovations in nuclear technology.

'This collaboration would be pivotal for SGS College, as it ensures the ongoing role of the college at SGS Berkeley as a key educational partner, providing tailored training and research opportunities in line with the ground-breaking advancements championed by the consortium. The sale would mark a significant milestone in the college’s history, promising to create a new era of energy innovation and educational excellence in the region.'

Berkeley was previously home to a Magnox nuclear reactor, which was decommissioned in 1989. CVG, including its significant shareholder Vital Energi, is a leading player in the zero-carbon energy sector, and is currently working with Rolls Royce and the University of Bristol to establish what it's calling a 'low-carbon energy super cluster' at Berkeley and Oldbury, using Small Modular Reactor (SMR) technology.

If successful, the project could facilitate the future deployment of SMRs and related technologies across the country.

Director of the SW Nuclear Hub, Tom Scott, said: ‘The announcement of CVG Group’s potential purchase of the Berkeley Science Park site, next to the old Magnox reactor site, is hugely exciting. I truly believe this site is the obvious location for a national campus for nuclear innovation and advanced energy technologies.

'This site was historically a focal point for nuclear research and innovation and I think it is wonderfully cyclical that the next generation of nuclear technology could be developed on the same site. It has all the ingredients necessary to become an internationally leading hub for training, research and innovation which attracts researchers, technologists and developers from around the world, including the development and export of the Rolls-Royce SMR.

'I would hope this science park also becomes the home for the UK’s first research reactor in a generation — it is certainly needed for both training and research and would provide us with a capability equivalent to our international partners and competitors around the world.’

CEO of CVG, Chris Turner, said: 'We are very honoured to have been selected by SGS College as the preferred bidder to deliver this international advanced zero carbon/nuclear technology park for training, FE and HE education, research and development, and applications testing.

'The project also represents the first step in the creation of a Severn Edge (Berkeley/Oldbury) zero carbon axis embracing a wide range of advanced technologies, including the potential for deployment of new nuclear generation technology such as SMRs at Oldbury.

'We are pleased that the Western Gateway partnership have acknowledged our proposal as complementary to their work leading the Severn Edge project with the support of landowners and local authorities. This initiative can only serve to attract more high technology inward investment and create a wide range of sustainable, long term, skilled jobs in the region.'

Leader of Gloucestershire County Council and vice-chair of the Western Gateway, councillor Mark Hawthorne, added: ‘It’s great to see our vision for a Severn Edge low-carbon energy campus at Berkeley and Oldbury moving one step closer with this nuclear innovation opportunity. The Western Gateway brings together the great business, academia and local leaders we have across South Wales and Western England to build on our potential to unleash world leading innovation and create economic growth. 

'We want to see our Severn Edge sites creating new green jobs and skills opportunities for local communities whilst also providing the low-carbon energy we need to power our economy. I look forward to working with the consortium as we continue to make the case for this area to lead a clean energy revolution for the country.'

SGS College anticipates due diligence to be completed on or before July 2024. 

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