Civil Nuclear Road Map

– in the House of Commons at 11:42 am on 11 January 2024.

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Photo of Andrew Bowie Andrew Bowie Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero) 11:42, 11 January 2024

With permission, Madam Deputy Speaker, I wish to make a statement on civil nuclear power in the UK. Today, we have published three key documents that reinforce the UK’s position as a leader in the civil nuclear renaissance: a civil nuclear road map, a consultation on alternative routes to market, and a consultation on a proposed policy for siting new nuclear power stations. That sets us on a path towards deploying up to 24 GW of nuclear power in Britain by 2050 as part of a cleaner, cheaper and more secure energy system for the future. It is the biggest investment in more than 70 years.

In the civil nuclear road map we are setting out our overarching strategy for the deployment of new nuclear reactors in the UK, and how His Majesty’s Government intend to work with the nuclear sector to deliver that ambition. The road map establishes our vision for a vibrant British nuclear sector, providing detail on the policies that we are pursuing to enable delivery, covering areas such as siting, regulation, financing, the joint work that we are undertaking with Defence nuclear colleagues to develop the required nuclear skills and supply chain in the UK, and how we are taking care of our nuclear legacy through policies on decommissioning and waste management.

Announcements in the road map include a commitment to reform the regulations, financing and decommissioning of civil nuclear to make it more agile, thereby streamlining regulation while retaining the UK’s world-class standards of safety. For example, the measures that we are announcing today could cut by up to 50% the approval times for reactors that are already approved by overseas regulators.

We are also announcing our commitment to reduce global dependence on Russian fuel and to grow the UK supply chain by investing £300 million, alongside industry, in the British production of clean, green high-assay low-enriched uranium fuel for innovative new reactors, thereby offering a commercial alternative to Russia for ourselves and our allies and partners.

The road map also sets out our long-term ambition for nuclear, providing high-level timelines and key decision points for a wide range of nuclear technologies over the next decades. Those technologies include small modular reactors, advanced modular reactors and gigawatt-scale projects, including a new commitment to explore a further gigawatt-scale nuclear project after Sizewell C. Advanced nuclear technologies, such as SMRs and AMRs, present the opportunity to decarbonise across the energy sector, from grid electricity through industrial heat to entirely new industries such as the production of hydrogen and synthetic fuel.

Last year, we set up Great British Nuclear as an arm’s length body responsible for helping to deliver new nuclear projects and lead our energy revolution, but we are also keen to harness innovation in the private sector and help developers to bring forward new nuclear projects outside of GBN’s ongoing SMR selection process. We are therefore today also launching our alternative routes to market consultation. That consultation, which will run for 12 weeks, aims to understand where the Government could support the private sector to bring forward advanced nuclear projects.

Finally, in recognition of our enhanced nuclear ambitions and the exciting potential offered by advanced nuclear technologies, we are launching a public consultation on a proposed new policy for the siting of new nuclear power stations. That consultation marks an important first step in the process for developing a new nuclear national policy statement for England and Wales, and will run for eight weeks. The results of the consultation will be used to inform the drafting of the national policy statement document, which we intend to publish for further consultation.

The proposed siting processes announced today would, of course, apply only to England and Wales. Although our ambition is for a whole British nuclear revolution, the current Scottish Government sadly remain committed to blocking any planning application for new nuclear in Scotland under their devolved consenting regime. However, we continue to invite the Scottish Government to join us and more than 30 other countries around the world to allow for reinvestment in, and the renewal of, our nuclear capacity across the whole UK in order to meet our net zero and energy security objectives. Our intention is to designate the NPS in 2025—subject, of course, to parliamentary processes. For the first time, we intend for the NPS to provide a planning policy framework for SMRs and AMRs, as well as the traditional gigawatt-scale power stations.

To achieve the UK’s nuclear ambitions, the Government believe that additional sites will be required for new nuclear projects, along with greater ongoing flexibility in the site selection process to enable new technologies. We are excited to introduce a positive shift in approach in the siting consultation: the new NPS will empower nuclear developers to identify potential sites for development, fostering developers’ innovation and, indeed, flexibility. Although the existing designated nuclear sites may possess many inherent positive attributes that potentially make them a consideration for future development, the change allows for the exploration of diverse new locations. By entrusting developers with that responsibility, we aim to streamline the process, encourage creative solutions and enhance the overall efficiency of nuclear development, ultimately contributing to the growth and sustainability of the industry.

We propose that the siting of new nuclear would continue to be constrained by robust criteria that determine where development can occur. Developers would be empowered to undertake the initial screening of sites based on those criteria, with advice from regulators and statutory agencies. Of course, it is our intention that safety will remain paramount, with the highest safety, security and environmental standards overseen by the independent nuclear regulator and environment protection agencies. Public consultation and community engagement will also remain essential parts of the process. This package —this vision, this announcement—represents the biggest investment in nuclear in the UK for over 70 years, ensuring our energy security, keeping us on the path to net zero and delivering the jobs of the future: our nuclear future.

I commend this statement to the House.

Photo of Sarah Jones Sarah Jones Shadow Minister (Industry and Decarbonisation) 11:48, 11 January 2024

I thank the Minister for advance sight of his statement.

The energy bills crisis of the past two years has exposed the deep vulnerabilities in Britain’s energy system and the urgent need to build more home-grown power in this country so that we can cut energy bills and have real energy independence from dictators such as Putin. In that context, we support the Government’s commitment to new nuclear power. Labour supports new nuclear, which must form a critical part of our future energy mix. Nuclear power is a long-term project for any country, and I want to give the industry and nuclear workers clear assurances that there is a cross-party consensus for nuclear power in this country.

It was the last Labour Government who identified 10 sites for new nuclear in 2009, and in the time since this Government’s record has been one of continual delay and false dawns. Yesterday, I met people from west Cumbria who have been waiting six years for a decision on nuclear since the last plan collapsed on this Government’s watch. The road map published today is two years later than they promised, and it still leaves a number of unanswered questions about how the Government intend to turn warm words into practical action, so I shall ask the Minister a number of questions.

First, I am glad that the Minister has woken up to the urgent fact that we need to generate more cheap, clean electricity in this country. In which year will any of the policies announced today actually cut bills for people? Secondly, it is all well and good talking about commitments to new stations in the next Parliament, but what is the timetable for the final investment decision for Sizewell C? The Government promised to have a final investment decision by the end of this Parliament, so will the Minister give a categorical promise today that that will be done? Time is running out. Thirdly, will he update us on the timetable for Hinkley Point C, originally promised to be delivered by 2017, and when will it start supplying power to households?

Fourthly, on SMRs, what is the timetable for concluding the competition? Just yesterday I met representatives trying to site SMRs who were complaining of long delays from Government and the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority in getting the project moving. How will the Minister unblock that and wider SMR development? Fifthly, what steps are being taken to ensure that the UK retains critical skills in our nuclear sector? Nuclear jobs are high-skilled, well-paid and unionised jobs, and Labour supports the workers and unions in the nuclear industry in calling on the Government to ensure that investment in the industry supports good jobs and apprenticeships right through the supply chain. Finally, will the Minister address the ongoing concerns about the safety and security of our nuclear decommissioning process, given the disturbing revelations about Sellafield? What steps are being taken to ensure that every nuclear site is secure?

Labour supports new nuclear for Britain after 14 years of inaction under the Conservatives. The wider lesson is that this country needs a Government going full pelt for clean power. We should be investing as a country in nuclear, offshore wind, onshore wind, solar, hydrogen, carbon capture and storage, and all forms of clean power that can help to cut bills and make our country energy independent. That is what we need, and that is what a Labour Government will do.

Photo of Andrew Bowie Andrew Bowie Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)

I am so pleased to hear the hon. Lady’s support for the Conservative party’s policies regarding nuclear, given that we are investing in all of the above and more. I do welcome the support of the official Opposition and their recent damascene conversion to the benefits of nuclear power, but we should never forget, in this place and beyond, that any nuclear projects in this country and any nuclear power stations have been delivered only by a Conservative Government. It is a record of which were very proud. Labour was in power for 13 years and delivered nothing.

We are very proud today to be publishing our civil nuclear road map. As I say, it is important for the industry that there is cross-party consensus and agreement that investment in nuclear is to the benefit of this country, the economy and the environment and, indeed, will provide energy security and wean ourselves and our allies off our reliance on Vladimir Putin for our energy needs.

The hon. Lady is absolutely right that delivering new nuclear power stations will yield results for the British people and deliver cleaner bills. In Finland, where nuclear power stations are now delivering more than 40% of energy on to the grid, bills have dropped by an incredible 70%. She asked about the final investment decision on Sizewell C; we remain committed to making that decision by the end of this Parliament. On Hinkley Point C, we are in fact very proud of the progress that is being made. Just last month we saw the dome being lifted on to the top of reactor 1. I have nothing but admiration for the workforce and everybody involved in delivering that first-of-a-kind project at Hinkley, and we continue to support it.

The hon. Lady asked about the next phase of the small modular reactor competition. It will be launched within weeks, so I ask her to bide her time and keep her patience. We are very excited to have six fantastic technology companies bidding to deploy in the United Kingdom, and we are moving faster than any comparable programme around the world, to ensure that Britain and the British people benefit from investment in small modular reactors and the benefits they can bring to the energy mix and to local economies.

The hon. Lady asked about skills. One of the things that the nuclear industry can bring, and indeed delivers at this point, is high-skilled, high-wage jobs throughout the country, and indeed in many places where those jobs are at a premium. It is absolutely right that we look at how we can encourage more people, and make the spaces available within industry and in our educational institutions to get more people into the jobs of the future in the nuclear industry. That is why I, along with my hon. Friend the Minister for Defence Procurement, have launched the nuclear skills task force, chaired by Sir Simon Bollom. It will publish its initial findings and recommendations in the very near future.

As I said, I welcome the new-found support, optimism and positivity for nuclear demonstrated by the Labour party, and when we as the Conservative party go on to win at the next election, I am sure that the hon. Lady will continue to offer that support from the Opposition Benches.

Photo of Rosie Winterton Rosie Winterton Deputy Speaker (First Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means)

I call the Chair of the Science, Innovation and Technology Committee.

Photo of Greg Clark Greg Clark Chair, Science, Innovation and Technology Committee, Chair, Science, Innovation and Technology Committee

The Committee that I have the privilege of chairing published a big report on the future of nuclear power last year, calling for a comprehensive strategy for new nuclear, so I warmly welcome the Minister’s statement and the publication today, which responds very comprehensively and substantially to many of the recommendations we made. In particular, I welcome the commitments to new gigawatt-scale nuclear as part of the 24 GW target; to streamline the regulation, which is extremely important; to small modular reactors; and to the security that comes from investing in our own domestic source of nuclear fuel. Those are very big steps forward. May I ask the Minister specifically to say whether the new site approval mechanism will allow these sites to be used for SMRs by the 2050 deadline or target?

Photo of Andrew Bowie Andrew Bowie Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)

I thank my right hon. Friend for his question and for all the work he has done to champion nuclear, not only in his capacity as Chair of the Select Committee but in his time as Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, when he was in charge of getting this ship moving. To answer his question directly, yes it will. The new siting strategy will cover the possibility of the deployment of all technologies —SMR, AMR and gigawatt-scale reactors. I welcome my right hon. Friend’s support.

Photo of Richard Thomson Richard Thomson Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Wales), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Northern Ireland), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Trade), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Business)

I thank the Minister for advance sight of his statement. He is absolutely right in one respect: the Scottish Government do not support the development of new nuclear power in Scotland. The reasons for that are simple: beside the environmental concerns, the economics do not lie. Nuclear power is slow to deliver and horrendously expensive, and the policy of recent years under Labour and Conservative Governments has been simply to allow private companies to privatise the profits while the risks are socialised for taxpayers. We on this side of the House—at least, on the SNP Benches—all know that Scotland’s comparative advantages lie in hydrogen and renewables, both areas in which the Scottish Government’s ambitions appear to considerably outstrip those of the current UK Government.

May I ask the Minister two simple questions? First, despite his disagreement with the Scottish Government’s stance on planning and nuclear, will he and his Government respect the devolution settlement as it stands? Secondly, will he give an undertaking, as none of his predecessors over the last half century or more have been able to do, that when the multibillion-pound decommissioning liabilities become live for any new generation of nuclear power stations, they will lie squarely on the private companies that have benefited in the preceding decades and will not fall on the taxpayer?

Photo of Andrew Bowie Andrew Bowie Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)

The Scottish National party, like almost every nationalist party in the world, has a misplaced belief in its own exceptionalism, and nowhere is that more true than on nuclear. At COP28, we saw over 30 countries come together to pledge to increase civil nuclear capacity around the world by a third, so clear and obvious is it that nuclear is essential not just in ensuring our energy security, benefiting local communities and driving forward our economy, but in reaching our net zero goals and ensuring that we have a cleaner energy baseload in the future. Indeed, there is no net zero without nuclear.

It pains me, especially as a Scottish Member of Parliament, that the Scottish Government’s wrong-headed position on this remains extant. I would very much welcome a change of direction within the Scottish Government. I urge the Scottish National party to look around the world at the countries joining with us in this nuclear renaissance and revival, and to think of the huge benefits that could be brought to Scotland, with its proud history in nuclear going back many decades, if it were to join us on this journey.

Of course we respect the devolution settlement. We are absolutely committed to maintaining it. What I urge, though, is a change of direction, a change of approach and a change of position by the Scottish Government, so that the Scottish people, the Scottish economy and the Scottish environment can benefit from future investment in nuclear that will be felt in England and Wales, and indeed in so many other countries around the world.

Photo of Rosie Winterton Rosie Winterton Deputy Speaker (First Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means)

I call the Chair of the Environmental Audit Committee.

Photo of Philip Dunne Philip Dunne Chair, Environmental Audit Committee, Chair, Environmental Audit Committee

Today’s statement provides welcome clarity about the Government’s road map for the delivery and revival of new nuclear energy capacity, and I will be writing on behalf of my Committee to the Minister shortly to raise some points about the SMR competition that he has touched on today. Notwithstanding the grudging support from those on the Opposition Front Bench, what steps is my hon. Friend taking to build the broad consensus behind this essential component of the delivery of net zero, so that the road map does not fall victim to the short-term thinking that bedevilled the delivery of a safe and effective renewal of nuclear capacity in the past, notably under the previous Labour Government?

Photo of Andrew Bowie Andrew Bowie Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)

I thank my right hon. Friend for his support of this document and for the work that he has done in chairing the Committee to drive forward the arguments for further investment in nuclear. I know he shares my belief that if we are to reach net zero, nuclear will play a large part in the mix of energy solutions that we invest in.

My right hon. Friend is absolutely right that we need to build a broad consensus. I genuinely welcome the support of the official Opposition for new investment in nuclear. As I said, when we look around the world, the pace at which the mood is changing and the broad acceptance of nuclear as a key benefit in reaching our net zero goals is incredible. It will take a lot of hard work on the part of all of us who believe in the benefits that nuclear can bring economically, to our energy security and, ultimately and most importantly, to the environment, to keep the pressure up. I look forward to his writing to me, and to discussing the issues that he has raised further, and I thank him once again for his broad support for what we are trying to deliver.

Photo of John Spellar John Spellar Labour, Warley

May I welcome the statement? I was going to commend the Minister on the work that I know he has done, until he unfortunately became petty political—I think he spent a bit too much time in Scottish politics. He will be aware that the small modular reactor assessment is already behind the Government’s own timetable. That is undermining Rolls-Royce, which builds small reactors for the Royal Navy and has done for many decades. Meanwhile, the formidable American political industrial machine is hoovering up customers around the world. Can we not learn from the vaccine taskforce how to accelerate process while maintaining safety? Will he now get a move on so that we can build British modular nuclear reactors using British workers?

Photo of Andrew Bowie Andrew Bowie Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)

I know the right hon. Gentleman would never stoop to petty politics in this Chamber or anywhere else, but I have to disagree with him. I share his passion for small modular reactors, and I share his belief that Rolls-Royce is a world-leading company that is delivering for this country right now and will continue to do so in future.

We are proud of the small modular reactor competition, which we launched in July. We have already completed the first process. We have six world-leading technologies competing to get investment from the UK Government for deployment here domestically, of which Rolls-Royce is of course a part. We will be launching the next phase in a matter of weeks. It is world-leading, and faster than any comparable programme in the world. The right hon. Gentleman says to get a move on, but we have not stopped to draw breath since we first launched GBN and the small modular reactor drawdown competition in the summer. However, I welcome his support for what we are doing, and I hope that he can encourage more of his colleagues to support it.

Photo of Trudy Harrison Trudy Harrison Conservative, Copeland

Today I am fighting back tears of joy and jubilation for this road map, because it is absolutely clear that we have a Minister and a Government who are utterly committed to nuclear—whether that is civil, defence, safe storage, medical isotopes or the entire supply chain. May I remind my hon. Friend the Minister that the road map clearly refers to the A595, the road between Barrow and Workington, where the journey began? Will he give his absolute assurance that he will remember where the journey began —with the commitment from my community and the community across Furness and west Cumbria—and ensure that that is at the forefront of his decision making on future missions?

Photo of Andrew Bowie Andrew Bowie Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)

My hon. Friend—she is a friend—is rightly proud of the contribution that Cumbria has made to our nuclear journey over the last century. The journey began at Calder Hall and has continued. She is right, and at the forefront of our decision making will be the experience, expertise and learning that has developed in and around her constituency, which will of course be at the forefront of our nuclear renaissance.

Photo of Bernard Jenkin Bernard Jenkin Chair, Liaison Committee (Commons), Chair, Liaison Committee (Commons), Chair, Liaison Sub-Committee on National Policy Statements, Chair, Liaison Sub-Committee on National Policy Statements, Chair, Liaison Sub-Committee on Scrutiny of Strategic Thinking in Government, Chair, Liaison Sub-Committee on Scrutiny of Strategic Thinking in Government

I congratulate my hon. Friend on his statement, which is probably the most significant statement on energy policy for at least a decade. I welcome in particular the intention to streamline planning processes and regulation to reduce unnecessary costs and delays. May I ask for an assurance that if there is to be new nuclear development at Bradwell in Essex, it will be of a type that does not affect the marine protected area of the Blackwater estuary, a historic oyster fishery on which many of my constituents depend?

Photo of Andrew Bowie Andrew Bowie Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)

I thank my hon. Friend for his question and for his support at this exciting moment. Of course, many sites will be looked at for future nuclear development, and in every case they will have to adhere to the stringent, strong and gold-plated environmental standards that we expect of nuclear licensed sites across the United Kingdom.

Photo of Rosie Winterton Rosie Winterton Deputy Speaker (First Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means)

I do apologise for having called two Members in a row from the same side. I shall immediately correct myself by calling two from the Opposition side.

Photo of Wera Hobhouse Wera Hobhouse Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Transport), Liberal Democrat Shadow Leader of the House of Commons, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Energy and Climate Change)

Thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker—I took no offence at all; it is fully understood.

The best route to affordable energy security is renewables. Nuclear power is blighted by delays and rocketing costs, and the Government are never honest about its much higher costs compared with renewables. On the Government’s watch, renewables have faced long delays and the costs for offshore wind development have increased by 40%. Will a renewables road map soon follow the statement to address those challenges and ensure that the Government do not lose their competitive advantage in offshore wind development?

Photo of Andrew Bowie Andrew Bowie Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)

I lose track of where the Liberal Democrats sit on nuclear. I know that their current leader was against it, then he was for it, and then against it again. Right now, I am not quite sure.

I do take issue with the hon. Lady’s insinuation that we are not leading the world in renewables. We have the first, second, third, fourth and fifth—and, soon, the sixth—largest offshore wind farms in the world generating power right now for Great Britain. We are investing at pace in solar and in a host of new and emerging technologies because, unlike some parties, we believe that we should not invest all our time and money in one technology. We need a broad range of technologies if we are ever to meet our legally binding net zero commitment. I look forward to the day when the Liberal Democrats can hold a policy for more than five minutes and come to the House and actually support us on the journey to our net zero future.

Photo of Olivia Blake Olivia Blake Labour, Sheffield, Hallam

I welcome the Minister’s statement. However, what lessons will be learned from previous and current projects on value for money? The National Audit Office was scathing about some of the decisions that had been taken on those projects. What more can be done to support manufacturing in this area right across the UK?

Photo of Andrew Bowie Andrew Bowie Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)

Building up the UK’s supply chain is essential. One of the huge benefits that will be accrued through this biggest-in-70-years investment in new nuclear is the ability to build up our manufacturing base in the United Kingdom, creating those high-wage, high-skilled jobs that we want to see in more communities around the entire country. Of course, lessons will be learned from previous projects. We are always looking at value for money for the British taxpayer, which is why, for example, we are using the regulated asset base model for funding Sizewell C.

Photo of Geoffrey Clifton-Brown Geoffrey Clifton-Brown Conservative, The Cotswolds

I warmly welcome my hon. Friend’s announcement today, because when the advanced gas-cooled reactors are decommissioned by 2030, we will have a dip in nuclear production. The Public Accounts Committee, of which I have the honour to be deputy chair, has done a lot of work on this. We recently had a follow-up visit to Sellafield. I agree with my hon. Friend that they do fantastic work there, but it is our largest single project, with a minimum cost of £200 billion over the next 100 years. Will he undertake to renew our efforts to get a better handle on the decommissioning costs, so that they can be properly allocated and we can have a true estimate of what nuclear generation costs?

Photo of Andrew Bowie Andrew Bowie Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)

I agree with my hon. Friend on the amazing work being conducted at Sellafield in the constituency of my hon. Friend Trudy Harrison. The lessons being learned through the decommissioning process at Sellafield will yield benefits. We are leading the way across the world on the decommissioning of sites and are very happy to be advising other countries on their decommissioning efforts. We need to ensure that any projects run by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority are proved to be value for money, and that we learn from the lessons of the past.

Photo of Liz Saville-Roberts Liz Saville-Roberts Shadow PC Spokesperson (Home Affairs), Shadow PC Spokesperson (Women and Equalities) , Plaid Cymru Westminster Leader, Shadow PC Spokesperson (Justice), Shadow PC Spokesperson (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy), Shadow PC Spokesperson (Transport), Shadow PC Spokesperson (Attorney General)

My party’s policy is to support the development of the present nuclear sites in Wales, one of which is Trawsfynydd in my constituency. The Welsh Government have funded Cwmni Egino to develop Trawsfynydd, and £20 million was allocated only last autumn for that purpose by the north Wales growth deal to enable critical development and planning, prior to the final investment decision to be made anon. Given the strategic developments and investments in Wales, can the Minister confirm that the entirely publicly owned Trawsfynydd, with its potential 550 jobs, remains a possible location for an SMR in the near future? Will he please visit Trawsfynydd?

Photo of Andrew Bowie Andrew Bowie Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)

I would be delighted to visit the right hon. Lady’s constituency. Trawsfynydd has exciting potential as a site for an SMR, and for other nuclear licensed activities. It and many others are potential sites for the deployment of these new technologies in the years ahead.

Photo of Charlotte Nichols Charlotte Nichols Labour, Warrington North

As co-chair of the all-party parliamentary group on nuclear energy, I warmly welcome today’s publication of the long-awaited civil nuclear road map, in particular the exploration of alternative routes to market for SMRs and AMRs outside the Great British Nuclear scheme. On the delivery of large-scale projects, I am curious to know why the road map states on page 20 that the Government will need to wait for the Sizewell C final investment decision before they can set out timelines and processes for a new large-scale project in the UK. That formal work and engagement in the Minister’s team need not wait on the work of another team over which he does not have control or oversight. In the spirit of speeding up delivery, might he begin this work now in readiness for maximising the time we have left before 2050 to get this done?

Photo of Andrew Bowie Andrew Bowie Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)

The hon. Lady can be assured that work is already beginning on identifying future sites for large-scale gigawatt power stations. We are committed to announcing more in due course.

Photo of Jill Mortimer Jill Mortimer Conservative, Hartlepool

May I add my intense excitement for this announcement and, in particular, for the inclusion of advanced modular reactors in the road map? Finally we have a way forward for them. My hon. Friend knows how important it is to me to get an AMR in Hartlepool. He was with me on his first ever visit to Hartlepool on the day that we announced a two-year extension for our reactor, which takes us to 2026. Does this announcement mean what I think it does—the guarantee of a future for nuclear at Hartlepool? Is it only a matter of time before he comes back to announce not only what we will build there, but who will build it and when?

Photo of Andrew Bowie Andrew Bowie Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)

I remember that visit distinctly—my first as the nuclear Minister. I thank the hon. Lady and everyone who hosts nuclear power stations in their constituencies for championing that industry, the sector and the workforce. The workforce and the sector have been widely castigated in the popular mindset over many years, but now are reaping the rewards of continued support from people such as my hon. Friend and others in this House. I am delighted that Hartlepool got the extension. The road map that we set out today will deliver a clear identification of what can be delivered, where and how. That means a bright future for nuclear in Hartlepool.

Photo of Deidre Brock Deidre Brock Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Wales), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (COP26), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (House of Commons Business)

Nova Innovation in my constituency recently announced the wonderful news that it had won €20 million of investment from the EU to lead a pan-European consortium to create the Seastar tidal energy farm in Orkney, the largest tidal energy site in the world. Why does the UK Government continue to largely ignore this safe, lower cost, reliable form of energy? As Greenpeace points out, the energy industry itself knows that the economic case for slow, expensive nuclear just does not add up.

Photo of Andrew Bowie Andrew Bowie Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)

Tidal received money for the very first time through the last auction round in the contracts for difference process. This Government are investing in tidal technologies, wind, solar, hydrogen, carbon capture and storage, continued exploration for oil and gas—which the hon. Lady’s party opposes—and nuclear. Of course, it is fantastic news for her constituents and the businesses around Scotland that are winning contracts to invest in renewables. What, to their shame, Scottish National party representatives in this place never mention is the hundreds of thousands of jobs in Scotland that depend on the nuclear industry—manufacturing, construction, education and the fantastic work going on right now in Torness, the only generating power station in Scotland currently delivering power to 1 million homes. Perhaps the Scottish National party will come to the Chamber and explain how, when that power station closes down—as sadly and inevitably one day it will—they will replace the power generated for Scottish homes under their plans to completely ignore this safe, secure and clean option for secure future energy.

Photo of Damian Collins Damian Collins Chair, Draft Online Safety Bill (Joint Committee), Chair, Draft Online Safety Bill (Joint Committee)

I welcome the civil nuclear road map, in particular the recognition that we will need additional nuclear sites to those in the existing policy framework. Does the Minister agree that there is one big difference between a gigawatt reactor and an SMR—gigawatt reactors are very big, and SMRs are comparatively quite small? Therefore, does he believe that we need to consider smaller sites such as Dungeness in my constituency, which could be very suitable for such technologies as SMRs?

Photo of Andrew Bowie Andrew Bowie Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)

Again, I welcome my hon. Friend’s support and I thank him for hosting me on a visit to Dungeness—the fish and chips were exquisite. I agree that we will look at every site and possible site and judge them on the basis of what type of technology could be built there. That will benefit his community, communities around the country and the United Kingdom more widely.

Photo of Jim Shannon Jim Shannon Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Human Rights), Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Health)

I thank the Minister for his statement. It is great that the Government have outlined plans for the biggest expansion of nuclear power in 70 years to reduce energy bills, which so many of our constituents struggle with on a daily basis. Minister, I ask you this question because you admitted that Northern Ireland

Photo of Rosie Winterton Rosie Winterton Deputy Speaker (First Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means)

Order. The hon. Gentleman knows that he should not refer directly to the Minister. Let us have another go.

Photo of Jim Shannon Jim Shannon Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Human Rights), Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Health)

Apologies, Madam Deputy Speaker. What provisions does the UK civil nuclear plan include to involve Northern Ireland? How will it ensure that the region’s perspectives and concerns are adequately taken into account in the development and implementation of nuclear politics and policies, so that we can create jobs and strengthen our economy at the same time as other areas in the United Kingdom?

Photo of Andrew Bowie Andrew Bowie Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)

As ever, the hon. Gentleman champions his constituents and the people and economy of Northern Ireland. It is essential to me that every part of our United Kingdom benefits from this once-in-a-generation investment into new nuclear. I would be delighted to meet him to discuss how Northern Ireland and his constituents in Strangford could benefit from investment in skills and the supply chain. Deployment of nuclear capabilities is a devolved competency, but I would be happy to meet him to see what his constituents can get from this historic announcement.

Photo of Katherine Fletcher Katherine Fletcher Conservative, South Ribble

From Anglesey, all the way up the coast to the tip of Cumbria, the north-west nuclear arc will be, as some Members have already suggested, dancing a little jig today. Springfields in Lancashire is the geographic and, I would argue, fuel production heart of that north-west nuclear arc. I welcome this announcement to secure the future £300 million investment to ensure that Vladimir Putin does not have his hands on the taps of advanced nuclear fuels. That is so important for the hundreds, if not thousands of people who live in South Ribble and work in the adjacent Springfields. This investment helps Lancashire support the UK domestic nuclear industry, but can the Minister tell me if there are opportunities for exporting Lancashire nous, skills, capability and fuel to the world?

Photo of Andrew Bowie Andrew Bowie Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)

Absolutely. Lancashire, like Cumbria, is at the heart of the vision we are announcing today. The £300 million investment in new nuclear fuels means that the United Kingdom will remain among a handful of nations committed and able to work across the entire fuel supply chain. The Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero is visiting Springfields as I speak, demonstrating our commitment to that plant and its people. Moving forward, we will be central to our allies and partners around the world being able to move away from and wean themselves off relying on hostile foreign actors like Vladimir Putin for their energy baseload. Lancashire will be key to doing that.

Photo of Greg Smith Greg Smith Conservative, Buckingham

Nuclear is hugely important for our energy security, so I welcome today’s statement. Missing from my atomic Friend’s extensive list of the benefits of nuclear is how much kinder nuclear is on land use, with a small modular reactor needing just two football pitches to produce enough power for around 1 million homes, compared to 2,000 acres of solar that will power only 50,000 homes. Does the Minister agree that nuclear is so much kinder and does not involve destroying vast swathes of the British countryside and impacting our food security?

Photo of Andrew Bowie Andrew Bowie Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)

My hon. Friend is absolutely right about the footprint and the comparable impact on land of nuclear compared to other technologies, but it is very important that we have a wide range of energy technologies moving forward. We will benefit from investment in wind, solar, hydrogen, CCUS and the nuclear we are announcing today, but I welcome his support for what we are announcing.

Photo of Peter Aldous Peter Aldous Conservative, Waveney

I welcome the statement and the publication of the three documents. With Sizewell C, as well as offshore wind and hydrogen, East Anglia, Suffolk and Lowestoft will play a vital strategic role in enhancing our energy security, keeping bills low and driving forward the transition to net zero. To enable the local area to play this lead role to the maximum advantage of local people and local businesses, does my hon. Friend recognise the vital importance of investment in skills at East Coast College and investment in infrastructure, such as in the port of Lowestoft?

Photo of Andrew Bowie Andrew Bowie Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)

Absolutely. My hon. Friend is spot on. I was very happy to visit East Anglia last year and see for myself the investment Sizewell C is making in the local community and in local colleges, supporting young people who want to get into the new high-skilled jobs that will be produced through the development of projects such as Sizewell C. I am very happy to announce that I will be visiting East Anglia again on Monday to see the progress that has been made at Sizewell C. He is absolutely right that the benefits that accrue locally through investment in nuclear, at large scale and at small modular scale, are unprecedented. That is one of the things that I hope comes out of today: yes we are talking about our energy security and yes we are talking about reaching net zero, but the impact locally to communities through investment in new nuclear is unprecedented. I am very excited to see what it brings in the years ahead.

Photo of Martin Vickers Martin Vickers Conservative, Cleethorpes

I welcome the Minister’s statement. Clearly, nuclear will have a major part to play in energy generation in coming years. A number of companies have already looked at sites in my northern Lincolnshire constituency, which he will know is a major centre for the renewable energy sector. He spoke of encouraging developers to identify potential sites. Does he agree with me that it is also important that local authorities play a part in encouraging this type of development? I can assure him that North Lincolnshire Council and North East Lincolnshire Council will welcome such developments.

Photo of Andrew Bowie Andrew Bowie Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)

I completely agree. Local authorities have a key role in driving forward interest and investment in small modular reactors and advanced modular reactors, and indeed in any new technologies that come through as the result of today’s announcement and the investment we are making in nuclear. I would be delighted to visit his constituency and see the potential of possible sites for small modular reactor deployment in the area he represents, because he is absolutely right. The potential for these technologies is huge not just, as I have said, for our energy security moving forward, but for the benefits they bring to communities up and down the length and breadth of the United Kingdom.