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BECBC Guardedly welcomes the appointment of the new Energy and Net Zero Secretary

Britain's Energy Coast Business Cluster guardedly welcomes the appointment of Grant Shapps as Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero. Many in the energy industry had concerns when energy was incorporated into the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Department that it would not have the profile and attention needed for a subject which so heavily affects our economy and communities. The impact of energy is one that no longer needs stated having forced its way to the front of the nation's attention following the start of the war in Ukraine almost a year ago. We believe the formation of this new department, tasked with managing the UK's long-term energy supply, bringing down bills and halving inflation must hit the ground running and be decisive.

We are not asking government to provide all the answers but the nuclear sector alone cannot make this happen. As a sector we have developed Small Modular Reactors, which avoid the issues often associated with all major projects and combatting the arguments often held against nuclear power of time and budget. As a community well versed in nuclear, having delivered the first commercial nuclear power station at Calder Hall which operated for 2.5 times the expected lifetime, we can develop and deliver solutions with the right support. The formation of the Solway Community Power Company shows how our community can identify barriers and develop solutions which can then be adapted to meet the needs of other communities delivering not just an energy solution but also community benefits. Piloting this solution in Cumbria, wit the presence of a strong, capable and collaborative supply chain, then adapting it to deliver in the other nuclear regions of the UK who we collaborate with through the work of UK Nuclear Regions makes sense. Doing it now, before an upcoming election slows things down is imperative.

Our community and our sector have developed the right solutions to help deliver on energy security for the UK. We need the new Secretary of State to enable the markets to deliver this solution with a short term, low risk intervention to deliver the first Small Modular Reactors here in Cumbria. This can then be adopted in other nuclear regions without need for government involvement and provide a boost to UK exports. National government working with the nuclear regions can bring benefits locally, regionally and nationally.

We are not asking government to solve the problem. We are asking them to enable our communities and businesses to deliver those solutions. As a country we need nuclear power stations of all sizes if we are to ensure the UK's energy security in the long-term.

We very much hope that Grant Shapps in his new appointment acts decisively.