I am pleased, and indeed proud, to say that Great British Nuclear will be holding a competition for small modular reactors, because we want to attract the best designs from both domestic and international vendors. The Government’s ambition is to select the leading technologies by autumn, providing co-funding to any viable new technology. Our commitment to a nuclear programme and to Great British Nuclear will enable the UK to be on a path to achieve its ambition to become a global leader in nuclear energy and small modular reactors.
As members of the Welsh Affairs Committee heard during a visit to the United States in January, small modular reactors should play a significant role in transition, alongside large-scale nuclear projects. Does the Minister agree that while north-west Wales has excellent scope for large-scale projects, parts of north-east Wales would be outstanding prospects for an SMR site, as well as capitalising on the region’s amazing manufacturing and engineering capabilities to drive that part of the energy mix forward?
The Government recognise the support for nuclear power across north Wales. Great British Nuclear will work with the Government on access to potential sites for new nuclear projects to achieve our long-term ambition. As a first step towards the development of the new national policy statement for nuclear, we will consult later this year on a proposed way forward for determining how new nuclear developments, including SMRs, might be located.
The Minister will know that this country has been producing small nuclear reactors for our submarines for more than 50 years. Does the Minister understand that while he is dithering around with his time-wasting international competition, those international competitors are out there in the market getting the orders and selling, backed to the hilt by their own Governments? Is this going to be yet another great British development created by our scientists, engineers and skilled trades, but allowed to slip away by blinkered civil servants and weak Ministers who cannot make a decision?
Rolls-Royce is a great British company, which is why we previously made up to £210 million available from the advanced nuclear fund to Rolls-Royce SMR Ltd to support the development of its small modular reactor design. Great British Nuclear will launch the first-stage selection process for small modular reactors, which is expected to attract the best designs from domestic and international vendors, which will be great for this country. By the way, we are going three times faster than any comparable country on this project.