Small Modular Reactors

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 5:20 pm on 20th February 2019.

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Photo of Richard Harrington Richard Harrington Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) 5:20 pm, 20th February 2019

And she is the Westminster leader. I beg the pardon of Liz Saville Roberts, but I was trying to avoid making a mess of her constituency name, which I have done before—I will not fall for that one again. I will, however, have a good go at saying Trawsfynydd, because I have been there. It is an excellent site for small modular reactors, as are Anglesey, Moorside and many others. The good thing about them is the support of the local community for nuclear, because many have seen the benefits that nuclear has brought in the past, such as prosperity and good-quality, highly paid employment.

In the time that I have left—I believe that my hon. Friend the Member for Copeland should be left a couple of minutes at the end—I will talk briefly about the financing models. Clearly, one of the big problems about nuclear generally has been financing. Everyone knows that, and that the large chunk for current nuclear power stations is about £15 billion plus, and could be £20 billion. That is a significant sum of money. The two projects we have talked about—Moorside and Wylfa in Anglesey—are not to take place in the timescale we had hoped for because of the financing.

However, I believe that the efforts we are putting into the regulated asset base model will open up nuclear again—a modern way to fund it. Institutions are very interested. On the small modular reactor side, my Department organised a very successful conference for the first time—in a high-tech area of the midlands, rather than one of the traditional sites—and quite a few financial institutions attended. We are in talks with the Treasury and inside the Department about developing that finance model. Logically, I believe it will work for smaller nuclear developments as well as large ones, because institutions obviously like to invest in smaller chunks.

The Government are very committed. We are helping small modular reactors. Apart from dealing with the consortium that I mentioned, we are providing funds to give the regulators the kind of facilities necessary for the regulatory process. Quite a lot is going on, and I had wanted to speak for about 20 minutes on this subject. Earlier I was waving my hands at the hon. Member for Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey not out of disrespect for him personally or because of anything he said, but because I wanted more time to go through my speech. However, I have galloped through the major points. I would just like formally to put on the record that the Government’s policy is firmly behind nuclear and very much behind—