£200m nuclear sector deal ‘could bring great benefits to east region’

A computer-generated image of how the Sizewell complex will look after construction of Sizewell C Pi

A computer-generated image of how the Sizewell complex will look after construction of Sizewell C Picture: SIZEWELL C - Credit: Archant

The UK government has announced a £200m deal aimed at fuelling innovation and diversity in the civil nuclear industry while bringing down build costs.

New Anglia LEP chair Doug Field Picture: EAST OF ENGLAND CO-OP

New Anglia LEP chair Doug Field Picture: EAST OF ENGLAND CO-OP - Credit: Archant

East Anglian industry leaders say the Nuclear Sector Deal, launched as new build projects including the proposed Sizewell C and Bradwell B plants take shape, has the potential to bring “great benefits” to the region, which has already built up nuclear expertise from its existing plant, Sizewell B.

Business secretary Greg Clark said he wanted to ensure the UK remained a “world leader” in the sector, and to boost to local jobs, wages, economic prosperity and UK innovation.

The deal has been developed by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, which has worked closely with the industry, as well as New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), Heart of the South West LEP and Cumbria LEP.

The government hopes to spearhead Britain’s move towards ‘cleaner’ economic growth, while promoting new opportunities in the sector including a focus on innovation and skills.

Business secretary Greg Clark Picture: PA WIRE/PA IMAGES

Business secretary Greg Clark Picture: PA WIRE/PA IMAGES - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

But shadow business secretary Rebecca Long Bailey claimed that of the £200m headline, only £10m represented new Government funding.

The agreement includes industry commitments to cut the cost of new nuclear build projects by 30% by 2030 and the cost of decommissioning old nuclear sites by 20% by 2030, as well as more workforce gender diversity, increasing the proportion of women from 22% to 40% by 2030.

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Doug Field, chair of New Anglia LEP, said alongside the region’s rapidly growing offshore wind industry, it put it in a “strong” position to help the UK deliver “clean growth”. “A Sector Deal for the nuclear industry has the potential to bring great benefits to the east. The existing supply chain for Sizewell B means our businesses already have the expertise. The opportunities created by Sizewell C and Bradwell B will be enhanced by this deal, creating more high value jobs and investment in Suffolk and Norfolk and the wider eastern region. Delivering Clean Growth is one of the Grand Challenges of the Government’s Industrial Strategy.”

Paul Warmington, energy skills development co-ordinator at Suffolk County Council, welcomed the “comprehensive” skills action plan contained in the deal.

An EDF Energy spokesperson said: “Today’s announcement recognises the vital role nuclear plays in the UK as part of a low carbon energy mix and as a major source of jobs, skills and industrial strength. The new power station EDF Energy and CGN are building at Hinkley Point C is leading the nuclear renaissance, generating huge economic benefits for the South West and helping to make the UK more competitive by boosting nuclear industry skills and expertise.

“By replicating the design at Sizewell C in Suffolk and exploring new financing options, we believe we can significantly reduce costs in line with the aims set out in the Nuclear Sector Deal. We continue to work hard to increase opportunities for women in the nuclear industry. We have already boosted the proportion of STEM apprentices we employ and have several programmes in place to support career progression for women at all levels.”

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