Posted on: 09/05/2017
Two parliamentary reports have warned that the UK’s nuclear industry is under threat from Brexit.
Any delay between the UK leaving the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom) and placing alternative arrangements into action would inhibit research and development (R&D) and threaten power supplies, according to the House of Commons’ Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Committee.
Meanwhile, the House of Lords’ Science & Technology Committee said the civil nuclear industry had been “blighted by the indecision of successive governments” and had now “reached a critical moment”, echoing the warning over leaving Euratom and also highlighting a lack of cash for R&D compared with rival nations such as France and the United States.
Both reports called for the incoming government to take action following next month’s General Election.
Iain Wright, Chair of the BEIS Committee, said: “The Prime Minister has made it politically unfeasible to remain in Euratom long term.
“The Government now has a responsibility to end the uncertainty hanging over the industry and ensure robust and stable arrangements to protect trade, boost research and development, and ensure safeguarding of the highest level.”
The Lords committee Chair, the Earl of Selborne, added: “The UK has long-standing and continuing commitments to civil nuclear energy and is now strategically positioned to capture opportunities, especially for Small Modular Reactors (SMRs).
“The incoming Government must end its cycle of indecision on nuclear policy and we urge it to take a clear, firm view on SMRs and wider civil nuclear strategy.”
Tom Greatrex, Chief Executive of the Nuclear Industry Association and a former Labour shadow energy minister, said the industry was also frustrated at the lack of progress over SMRs.
“With a potential global market for SMRs valued at £250-400 billion, the government must provide clarity as soon as possible after the general election if the energy, industrial and export opportunities of a UK SMR are to be realised.”
Energy Secretary Greg Clark responded by saying: “The future of the nuclear industry in this country can only be protected by a Prime Minister who will actually stand up for Britain and nuclear power in Brexit negotiations.”