German energy firm understood to be considering £4bn plant for site, which is just one of a number of potential acquisition targets

German energy company E.ON has been buying up farmland in south Gloucestershire in preparation for nuclear new-build.

The firm said it had bought several pieces of private land around the existing nuclear plant at Oldbury-on-Severn near Bristol. It has also applied for a National Grid link to the plot.

The present plant, which is owned by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA), is scheduled to close down at the end of the year, leaving E.ON room to build a much bigger reactor in its place. It is understood to be looking at an EPR plant, which would cost about £4bn.

E.ON said Oldbury was just one of a number of potential sites it is considering for nuclear plants. The NDA is also selling sites at Wylfa, on Anglesey, and Bradwell, in Essex.

Meanwhile, French energy giant EDF is still waiting for regulatory approval for its agreed £12.5bn takeover of British Energy, which would give it access to most of the preferred sites for nuclear new-build.

Last week, the government closed a consultation on its criteria for site selection for the next generation of nuclear plants in the UK.