BRADWELL power station is set to enter the next stage of nuclear decommissioning earlier than planned.

The Nuclear Decommission Authority has given the go ahead for Bradwell to move into the care and maintenance stage perhaps up to 12 years ahead of the original plan.

The authority’s new business plan, which has been out for consultation for four months, gives Bradwell £71million for the new financial year, an extra £20million on the 2010/11 allocation.

The move could reduce the lifetime costs at Bradwell by £230million but the “optimised” programme will also mean staff numbers will fall quicker in the long term even.

Dick Sexton, Bradwell site director, said while safety remained his highest priority he was looking forward to the community benefits: “Acceleration has significant benefits for the local community, work force, government and the industry.

“It will provide a benchmark for nuclear decommissioning and a boost for jobs, with more than 100 extra workers already recruited and investing in the local community.”

Chairman of the Bradwell local community liaison council, Brian Main, has also welcomed the news.

The extra money will go towards packaging radioactive waste from the site’s vaults, decontaminating the cooling pond and weatherproof cladding the two reactors.

The final decommissioning stage had been planned to begin in about 80 years.