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Nuclear investors advised to build in Britain

22 July 2008

Business Secretary John Sutton has found that the UK is a leader in a new global nuclear investment ‘league table’ and looks set to attract the world’s leading energy companies to build its next generation of nuclear power stations. The UK Government has the ambition and commitment to build and maintain the best market in the world for companies to do business in nuclear power.

Nuclear investors advised to build in Britain
Nuclear investors advised to build in Britain

“Nuclear has proved to be a dependable, affordable and safe source of low-carbon energy. And as such, it has - alongside renewables and carbon capture and storage, a critical role to play in our future energy mix. To meet our energy goals, we must do everything we can to ensure new nuclear power stations are available as soon as possible. But, as more and more countries seek to insulate themselves against future energy price rises, soaring energy demand and the irrefutable reality of climate change, they’re competing hard for the people, investment and technology to enable their own nuclear programmes.

The UK must aim to become the world’s number one location for new nuclear investment – benefiting from the thousands of jobs and billions of pounds worth of business that this could potentially bring to our country.” Hutton stated

At the conference Hutton presented the Government’s action plan for enabling new nuclear, building on January’s Nuclear White Paper. This included the creation of a new Office of Nuclear Development, within the Department for Business, to build more effective cross-Government working on nuclear energy. The creation of a new Hutton-chaired Nuclear Development Forum, bringing together Government and the industry, to discuss key issues and maintain momentum as nuclear new build progresses. In addition to publishing the draft criteria for deciding on the siting of new nuclear power stations (the Strategic Siting Assessment).

Following his keynote speech, his advisor Tim Stone presented initial findings from his review of the UK’s regulatory regime. Stone’s preliminary proposals were focused on; measures to improve recruitment and retention of staff at the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate (NII), which regulates nuclear safety – to ensure that there are sufficient inspectors to review the three reactor designs which energy companies have proposed for new nuclear stations. As well as measures to assist the NII Chief Inspector in driving forward the new culture, with its enhanced efficiency, accountability and transparency, of the NII.

NII Chief Inspector Mike Weightman also spoke at the event. He announced that inspectors are to begin their detailed assessment of the three nuclear reactor designs, a complex process known as the Generic Design Assessment which is due to be completed by 2011.

John Hutton also flagged the UK’s efforts to upskill to meet the expected high levels of demand for trained staff, including work with Cogent, the National Skills Academy for Nuclear and the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority. Hutton will call for applications for membership of the Nuclear Liabilities Financing Assurance board, which will give independent advice to the Secretary of State on the suitability of the financial element of the Funded Decommissioning Programmes for new nuclear power stations, to be submitted for approval by energy companies.

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