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UK creates Nuclear Industry Council to support supply chain development

06 November 2012

The UK government has announced the creation of a Nuclear Industry Council to maximise development of the supply chain needed to support both a domestic and export nuclear industry. The Council will involve government officials and industry executives in implementing a Nuclear Supply Chain Action Plan, to be published later this year.

The Nuclear Industry Council will support the supply chain for the UK domestic and export nuclear industry
The Nuclear Industry Council will support the supply chain for the UK domestic and export nuclear industry

The Council will be led by UK Energy Secretary Edward Davey, Energy Minister John Hayes and Business Minister Michael Fallon representing government with Lord Hutton, Chairman of the Nuclear Industry Association and former Labour Energy Minister, leading the industry side.

The Council is intended to replace the Nuclear Development Forum – a twice-a-year gathering of industry executives and government officials whose stated aim was to ensure “regular and high-level contact between all parties on the issues that matter the most to potential investors and operators.”

The Nuclear Industry Council will join the industry’s Programme Management Board, which also includes high-level government involvement from both the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) and the Office for Nuclear Regulation.

The PMB’s focus is on construction and delivery issues for new reactors, particularly the lead project by EDF to build two new EPR reactors at Hinkley Point C in Somerset, England.

The Nuclear Industry Council “symbolises the long-term strategic partnership developing between the UK nuclear industry and the Government,” John Hutton, Nuclear Industry Association Chairman, said in an October 30 statement.

“Through innovation and high-skilled job creation, the nuclear sector has the potential to be a driver of economic growth in the UK over the coming years. Our ambition is for it to be a globally recognised industry, with UK companies seeking and winning opportunities in the domestic and global nuclear markets,” Hutton said.

The Nuclear Supply Chain Action Plan is aimed at maximising UK economic activity and growth from the nuclear sector, including employment and business opportunities for the UK supply chain.

It will also ensure the domestic nuclear market provides a platform for export; and raising awareness of nuclear sector opportunities, to identify barriers and help place the supply chain in a stronger position to compete for those opportunities, Hutton said.

In an article in The Daily Telegraph on October 30, Energy Minister John Hayes said Hitachi’s decision to go ahead with new nuclear build in the UK confirmed the future importance of the sector.  

“The entry of Hitachi into the UK’s nuclear market is great news for our energy security and even greater news for our economy as a whole. Between four and six new reactors across sites in Wylfa in North Wales and Oldbury in Gloucestershire will be worth £20bn and support up to 12,000 construction jobs.

“As the Prime Minister said yesterday: ‘This is a decades-long, multi-billion pound vote of confidence in the UK’. This is evidence that our nuclear resurgence is alive and well. The UK has the potential to be a springboard for new nuclear development around the world. And this presents massive opportunities for firms in the UK not just to supply the domestic market, but to export goods and services too.

“Since the withdrawal of E.ON and RWE from the Horizon venture, Ministers and officials across Government have worked tirelessly to persuade international investors that new nuclear is an exciting prospect and Britain is very much open for business. The news that Hitachi is entering the UK market is highly encouraging, particularly given their commitment to source around 60% of the value of their first plant from within these shores. And that’s backed up by Memoranda of Understanding with Rolls Royce and Babcock International. It also reignites competition in new nuclear in the UK – kicking any suggestion that there is only one show in town firmly into touch.

“It is precisely because we want to get the benefits from nuclear investment that Government is forming with industry the Nuclear Industry Council. This council will take a strategic lead in driving the deployment of new nuclear and making sure the UK supply chain is equipped to maximise the economic benefits at home and abroad. I will be actively involved, alongside Ed Davey, Business Minister Michael Fallon, and Lord Hutton, Chair of the Nuclear Industry Association.

“As we approach publication of the Government’s landmark Energy Bill, this major injection of capital into our power sector is a clear sign that there is appetite for investment. I am in no doubt that with our reforms and commitment to new nuclear, Hitachi’s investment will be the first of many.”

Following Hitachi's purchase of Horizon, international groups intent on building nuclear plants in the UK include EDF and Centrica at Hinkley Point and Sizewell, Hitachi, GE and SNC-Lavalin at Wylfa and Oldbury, and Iberdrola and GDF-Suez at a location near Sellafield in Cumbria.

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