South Gloucestershire & Stroud College (SGS) is embarking on a transformative journey by signing Heads of Terms for a strategic disposal of their Gloucestershire Science and Technology Park at SGS Berkeley to a preferred bidder, Chiltern Vital Group (CVG). The disposal, subject to due diligence and contract, will enable significant commercial investment into this campus in order to provide significant economic opportunities to the sub-region.
Chiltern Vital Group is a leading UK project creator and developer in the zero-carbon energy, digital education and technology sectors, and has an existing project portfolio in excess of £1bn.
Vital Energi, a significant shareholder in CVG, is itself a leading UK player in the zero-carbon energy space., which includes the decarbonising and re-use of waste heat.
CVG is working with Rolls Royce Small Modular Reactors and the University of Bristol to establish a low-carbon energy ‘super cluster’ at Berkeley/Oldbury that would greatly facilitate the future deployment of SMR’s and related technologies.
CVG’s plans for Berkeley include an increasingly important role for SGS College and the on-site SGS Berkeley Green UTC.
Kevin Hamblin, Chief Executive Officer of SGS College Group, adds
‘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’.
Cllr Mark Hawthorne, Vice-Chair of the Western Gateway and Leader of Gloucestershire County Council said:
‘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.”
Chris Turner, CEO of CVG and Chairman of the Yorkshire Energy Freeport Park 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 &
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”
Alan Woods – Rolls-Royce SMR Strategy & Business Development Director said:
Berkeley has played a varied and important role throughout the history of the UK’s nuclear
industry and Rolls-Royce SMR welcomes the intent to redevelop Berkeley Campus as hub for
nuclear skills and innovation. This kind of commitment, to building future nuclear skills
across all levels of education, will support the roll-out of Rolls-Royce SMRs across the UK and
Tom Scott, Director of the SW Nuclear Hub stated:
‘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.'
Notes to editors
The University Technical College (UTC) at Berkeley, sponsored by SGS College and with nearly 400 students, will maintain its operations amidst the campus transition and for the long-term future. This ensures the continuation of high-quality education in engineering and digital technologies. The presence of the UTC at Berkeley is crucial for fostering future talent and aligns with the region's growing focus on technology and nuclear energy sectors. As the site evolves, the UTC remains a steadfast hub for skill development and learning for the next generation.
The Berkeley site, once central to the UK's nuclear power station research and now revitalised with over £30 million in investments, is a testament to SGS College's commitment to innovation and regional development. The anticipated completion of the sale by mid-2024 marks a new chapter in this legacy, promising continued growth and collaboration in the nuclear sector, reinforcing SGS College's dedication to shaping a skilled, future-ready workforce.
The SGS Board formalised Heads of Terms on 25th January 2024, and any agreement is expected to be completed after due diligence on or before July 2024.
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