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Awards 2024
John Grainger

BECBC digests the Government’s Civil Nuclear Roadmap

BECBC welcomes the Government's publication of the Nuclear Roadmap and the commitment it has shown to new nuclear across the country, but the time for talk is over and we need to see action and more detailed timescales.

We believe the commitment to looking at developing large gigawatt reactors beyond Hinkley Point C, currently in construction, and then Sizewell C in Suffolk, helps to underpin the supplier relationship that the business cluster has with EDF and the Chamber network.

The energy mix of large reactors and SMR's is very necessary if we are to reach our ambitious net zero targets by 2050. We need both of these different size technologies at pace, but for the Government this means 15-20 years of continuing investment in order to reach their target, so measured and sustainable would be the speed at which they want to proceed.

The private sector could speed this process up. There is an important role for the Government in giving industry certainty. This allows businesses and investors to make investment decisions and with nuclear now becoming attractive to private investment this is much needed. The regionally developed Community Nuclear Power is ready to go, fully funded, with three projects around the country. One of those projects could be here.

The promised reduction in bureaucracy will also mean the industry can become more efficient and productive to deliver at greater pace which is vital for delivery of net zero targets, energy affordability and energy security.

The importance of the UK sustaining a position on energy security is paramount if we want to maintain a healthy and balanced economy on the way. The conflicts in Ukraine, and now Yemen, bring this issue sharply into focus. The announcement of investment into the low enriched uranium nuclear fuel suppliers in North West England endorses this position.

Because of our physical location on the edge of the Irish Sea, we have a lot of clean energy assets to further exploit. The existing Robin Rigg Offshore Wind Farm, a clutch of onshore turbines and yet to be developed wave technology being harnessed into an energy source, means that we have a large part to play in the coming decades. Cumbria can help achieve the twin aims of energy security and decarbonisation, offering sustainable and diverse jobs for our new and emerging workforce.

So what are the next steps?

  • The successful bidders into the Great British Nuclear SMR competition will be announced soon.
  • The green taxonomy scheme, whereby it will be defined what can be called environmentally sustainable investments, will be specified .
  • No matter where new reactors will be deployed, we have, as the centre of nuclear excellence, the capability and capacity within our supply chain to service most requirements for the next generation of nuclear designs currently under development.

So, the roadmap gives us the opportunity to build on our own aspirations and also give confidence to investors to back new UK projects.

Our expertise is world renowned and supports the delivery of nuclear projects internationally, our BECBC members will be looking to engage with local businesses around sites as they are identified to offer that expertise and collaborate for growth across the regions.