Pressure mounts on Downing Street to outline nuclear future
3 May 2017
The UK nuclear industry warned today it is on “a cliff edge” with key projects including Hinkley Point C likely to be impacted if the government fails to agree a replacement to the Euratom Treaty as part of Brexit negotiations.
Chief executive of the Nuclear Industry Association (NIA) Tom Greatrex released a report by the organisation detailing the steps it says Downing Street needs to take in order to ensure continuity.
“This new report demonstrates that without new arrangements in place by the time the UK leaves the Euratom community, there is scope for real and considerable disruption," he stated.
“The industry has not only set out the priority areas to be addressed, but also the steps we think the Government needs to take to address those issues.”
The NIA report’s call for a joint government and industry working group to develop a nuclear policy that mirrors the recommendation made by the House of Lords science and technology committee in its report earlier this week.
Without new arrangements in place by the time the UK leaves the Euratom community, there is scope for real and considerable disruption
Tom Greatrex, chief executive, Nuclear Industry Association (NIA)
Peers had warned that the UK departure form Euratom would leave the domestic nuclear industry devoid of markets and key skills.
The Lords report was one of two parliamentary reports highlighting concern about British nuclear. MPs on the House of Commons’ business, energy and industrial strategy committee also highlighted the danger of falling power supply and declining research ability.
Meanwhile two other leading industry bodies added their weight to calls for clarity on future nuclear policy and agreements, following the two parliamentary reports.
Dr Jenifer Baxter, head of energy and environment at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE), commented: “With the Article 50 process taking just two years, the UK Government must act quickly to start the process to develop Nuclear Cooperation Agreements to enable continuity of international trade, for goods such as nuclear fuels and research.
“Government must make sure that the UK will be able to access sector specific skills not currently available in the UK, such as centrifuge technology expertise.
Dipali Raniga, senior energy and environment policy adviser at EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation, said the Lords report had highlighted the role nuclear research and technology would play in a post-Brexit UK economy.
He cited the role a UK small modular reactors programme could play in delivering cost-competitive, low carbon energy, “together with UK industrial opportunities in the supply chain, skills development and university research in the energy sector and beyond”.