Small Modular Reactors

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 4:48 pm on 20th February 2019.

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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) 4:48 pm, 20th February 2019

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Paisley. I congratulate Trudy Harrison on securing the debate.

Nuclear remains the most dependable low-carbon energy source to deploy in the energy mix alongside large-scale renewable projects. We must be open to all research and development of low-carbon and environmentally friendly technologies, just as Finland’s Green party endorses. Nuclear and renewables have a symbiotic relationship. That may change, but from where we stand, it is likely that the greatest advances in technology, such as advanced modular reactors and fusion, will arise from nuclear origins.

My constituency is among the lowest waged in the United Kingdom. The median full-time earnings for 2018 were £21,840—almost £8,000 less than the UK average, and £5,000 lower than the Welsh average. With the rural economy of Wales greatly dependent on ever dwindling public sector jobs and minimum wage leisure and hospitality employment, the development of the future economy of my constituency and county cries out for a range of employment.

Rural Wales suffers generational depopulation as our young people move away to seek job opportunities elsewhere. In Welsh-speaking areas such as Dwyfor Meirionnydd, that is a double loss. It is therefore imperative that the Government recognise the potential of Trawsfynydd, M-SParc and Bangor University to not only grow the economy of north-west Wales but act as catalysts to stimulate supply chains across a region stretching from Caergybi to Cumbria.

I also call on the Government to support their own industrial policy. A small modular reactor or an advanced modular reactor at Trawsfynydd will help to transform not only the economy of Trawsfynydd but the wider supply chain across north Wales and north England. In view of the accepted need to develop an SMR or AMR, coupled with the nuclear sector deal’s proposal to site a thermal hydraulic facility at Menai Science Park in Ynys Môn, it is now surely urgent that the Government publicly recognise that Trawsfynydd is an ideal site for a first-of-a-kind development.

Let us speak plainly: the Government must sense the appetite for co-operation that leads cross-party representatives to spell out that the future of an indigenous nuclear industry in serving the economic and energy needs of Wales, England and beyond is dependent on the SMR or AMR programme going ahead. I am proud to work alongside trade union representative Rory Trapp of Blaenau Ffestiniog, who campaigns doggedly for the UK Government to specify Trawsfynydd as an SMR site because he recognises the potential for a range of jobs over a 60-year lifespan. This is an opportunity for well-paid work for up to three generations of local families and for families across wider north Wales and the north of England. I close by repeating that: well-paid work for three generations of families in rural, Welsh-speaking Wales.