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BECBC Response to the Spring Budget nuclear announcements.

Today, Chancellor Jeremy Hunt announced, as part of the Spring Budget, that the UK will press ahead with choosing sites for new nuclear Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) alongside an increased investment in Carbon Capture Projects as part of the focus on Energy Sustainability.

The launch of Great British Nuclear is a welcome step forward. As the region which delivered the first commercial nuclear power station with Calder Hall in 1956, Cumbria has a strong "First of a Kind" history with an experienced and capable supply chain primed to support both large scale nuclear and SMRs. We look forward to working with Great British Nuclear to deliver affordable and secure energy for the UK and urge that pace must be maintained as we see other countries moving ahead of the UK by making technology and siting decisions which we have not yet made. Our skills, experience and supply chain connectivity position us to be at the forefront of a new dawn of nuclear energy, but to see that new dawn we must avoid unnecessary delays.

Here at Britain's Energy Coast Business Cluster, we have two members who are working in the SMR market, Last Energy and TSP Engineering, and are also working closely with Rolls Royce SMR in order to support their supply chain needs. The market has provided options for SMR's which all have different strengths and weaknesses making them each a solution for different situations. When we've had to extend the life of current nuclear power stations we suggest that the way forward isn't about picking one perfect solution but about getting started as quickly as possible. In these circumstances we await with anticipation the details of the competition later in the year.

The decision to include nuclear in green taxonomy, something the industry has been pushing for, should release further private funding for new nuclear which is another positive move forward for the sector.

Following on from the international AUKUS announcement all the above could drive regional economic growth in an area that has historically supported civil and defence nuclear in tandem. A supportive, knowledgeable community stands alongside a capable and experienced nuclear supply chain to play its part in ensuring the energy security and affordability we need as a country. We welcome today's announcements but also urge government to make timely decisions to move forward with clarity and at a pace needed for the times we find ourselves in.