17 Feb 2012

Deal with France will boost British jobs, says PM

A deal struck between the UK and France on nuclear power will help to ensure that the bulk of work in the industry goes to British firms, Prime Minister David Cameron says.

Downing Street said that by joining forces in the nuclear sector, the UK and France can develop a competitive supply chain capable of seizing opportunities around the world.

Mr Cameron said: “The deals signed today will create more than 1,500 jobs in the UK, but they are just the beginning. My goal is clear. I want the vast majority of the content of our new nuclear plants to be constructed, manufactured and engineered by British companies. And we will choose the partners and technologies to maximise the economic benefits to the UK. Today marks an important first step towards that.”

Some 16GW electricity of new nuclear capacity in the UK is planned, including four reactors at Hinkley Point and Sizewell and nuclear capacity of at least 6GW electricity at Wylfa and Oldbury.

Job opportunities

Energy Secretary Ed Davey said the new nuclear plants would create highly-skilled job opportunities across the country. “There are plans for new nuclear in Somerset, Suffolk, Cumbria, North Wales and Gloucestershire,” he said. “Supply chains will spring up too, and extend the reach of economic benefit across the country. This investment could be worth around £60bn and create up to 30,000 jobs.

“The deals we will see signed today reflect our ongoing desire to work closely together with our French allies and the private sector on nuclear, and across the energy mix.”

Rolls-Royce is to open a factory in Rotherham to produce components for the first new nuclear plant at Hinkley Point, in Somerset, as part of a £400m deal with French energy giant Areva, supporting 600 jobs in the company and 600 in its supply chain.

Meanwhile, France’s EDF will conclude a £100m agreement with Keir/BAM Nuttall for the first construction works at Hinkley Point and will set up a £5m training campus for future nuclear engineers in nearby Bridgwater.

Rotherham MP Denis MacShane said: “I am glad that Britain and France will become European partners to build 21st century nuclear power plants and Rotherham will play an important role.”

According to the World Nuclear Association, the UK has 18 reactors normally generating about 18 per cent of its electricity and all but one of these will be retired by 2023. The first of some new-generation plants which will be capable of generating up to 19GW electricity are expected to be on line about 2018.

Timeline: Britain’s nuclear reactors

2012 – 2014: Oldbury 1 and two reactors at Wylfa decommissioned
2016: Two reactors at Hinkley Point decommissioned, two reactors at Hunterston decommissioned
2018: Hinkley Point C-1 starts up, Dungeness B 1 and 2 decommissioned
2019: Hinkley Point C-2 starts up, Two reactors at Hartlepool’s and a further two at Heysham decommissioned
2020: Sizewell C-2 starts up
2022: Sizewell C-2 and Oldbury B starts up
2023: Moorside starts up, Two reactors at Heysham and two reactors at Torness decommissioned
2035: Sizewell B decommissioned
Source: World Nuclear Association

In the late 1990s, nuclear power plants contributed around 25 per cent of total annual electricity generation in the UK, but this has gradually declined as old plants have been shut down.

The Sizewell B reactor was the last of the UK’s nuclear reactors to come into operation when it started up in the 1990s.