Nuclear Power

Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 20th November 2018.

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Photo of Trudy Harrison Trudy Harrison Conservative, Copeland 12:00 am, 20th November 2018

What steps he is taking to secure the future of nuclear power in the UK.

Photo of Greg Clark Greg Clark The Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

The Government believe that nuclear power has an important role to play in our energy system as part of a diverse range of low-carbon technologies. Our intent is clearly visible in the form of Hinkley Point C—the first new nuclear power station to be built in this country in a generation—as well as in the launch in June of our landmark nuclear sector deal at Trawsfynydd.

Photo of Trudy Harrison Trudy Harrison Conservative, Copeland

I thank the Secretary of State for his response. It is reassuring to me to understand this Government’s commitment to new nuclear, but with Toshiba’s recent decision to wind down NuGen, can he assure me that he will meet any developer who is interested in building their reactors at Moorside in Copeland?

Photo of Greg Clark Greg Clark The Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

I can indeed give that assurance to my hon. Friend, who is a great champion of one of the bastions of skills and innovation in the nuclear sector in this country. The circumstances behind Toshiba’s wind-down of NuGen are well known—it was because of the move to chapter 11 bankruptcy of its subsidiary—but that site is now available for other investors.

Photo of Luke Pollard Luke Pollard Labour/Co-operative, Plymouth, Sutton and Devonport

The future of nuclear power is not just about building reactors; it is about having people with the skills to work in those reactors as well. As we have a skills gap in defence nuclear, can the Secretary of State set out what actions the Government are taking to support the growth of nuclear skills in both defence nuclear and civil nuclear?

Photo of Greg Clark Greg Clark The Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

I am delighted that the hon. Gentleman takes such an interest in this. He will know that the nuclear sector deal provides for training, new institutions and new apprenticeship and scholarship opportunities for nuclear engineers in both the civil and defence sectors. This is all part of an agreement across the industry with Government to ensure that the next generation of nuclear power is supported by new-generation nuclear engineers and technicians.

Photo of John Stevenson John Stevenson Conservative, Carlisle

The Government were very keen to emphasise that the Toshiba-Korea Electric Power Corporation negotiations over NuGen were a commercial matter. If the Chinese nuclear company CGNChina General Nuclear Power Group—agrees to develop Moorside on a commercial basis, with no Government subsidy, would the Government support it?

Photo of Greg Clark Greg Clark The Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

As my hon. Friend knows, in each case the proposals are developer-led, so it is for proponents to come forward. As I have said to our hon. Friend Trudy Harrison, I am very happy, with my officials, to meet anyone who has an interest in doing so.

Photo of Meg Hillier Meg Hillier Chair, Public Accounts Committee

The demise of Moorside and NuGen underlines how the Government’s nuclear policy hinges on overseas investment, particularly from energy companies that are owned wholly by other states. Is the Secretary of State having a really good look at the other planned nuclear power stations to make sure that there will be enough nuclear power to maintain energy integrity in the UK in future?

Photo of Greg Clark Greg Clark The Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

The answer is yes. I am grateful to the hon. Lady’s Public Accounts Committee for examining the model for financing nuclear new build. With her colleagues, she has made some helpful suggestions, which she knows we are committed to taking forward to see whether they can be viable.