MPs and energy unions back dual design approach for UK nuclear new build
22 Mar 2012
Any new nuclear build in the UK should be secured via a "duel design approach" representatives from two key energy unions agreed with MPs.
Officials from the Prospect and Unite unions met with cross-party MPs from the North-West and Westinghouse representatives to discuss the implications for the UK supply chain if only one of the reactor designs under assessment for the nation's new nuclear fleet goes ahead.
The unions warned that the UK needs both the Areva EPR and Westinghouse AP1000 reactors to be built to ensure long-term security of energy supply, job creation and skill development for the full cycle of new nuclear services.
But without intervention from the Department of Energy and Climate Change the country's capability in advanced engineering, manufacturing and support for the UK nuclear industry will be threatened.
The timing of the meeting comes as an announcement from Horizon Nuclear Power over its chosen reactor design for a new plant at Wylfa is anticipated any day.
Prospect National Secretary Mike Graham said: "The government's preference for at least two technologies for new nuclear build in the UK is commendable. But while it makes no secret of the fact it does not want French dominance of the industry, it is powerless to intervene in the commercial decisions of private companies.
"We hope that through lobbying with MPs and other key stakeholders in the industry that the "two technology" argument will prevail. It is vital that a second supply chain for new nuclear build in the UK is established because EDF's decision to build the EPR design at Hinkley Point and Sizewell will be heavily reliant on a French supply chain."
Unite National Officer, Kevin Coyne said: "Unite supports the construction of new nuclear power stations as part of a low carbon, balanced energy portfolio. Dependence on one design, however, is fraught with future difficulties. It makes sense to adopt a dual design approach, saving thousands of existing jobs in the process.
"Unite welcomes the cross-party support for this principle but we now need this support turned into action. It is action that will ensure a strong British supply chain in nuclear technology and engineering which will secure thousands of highly-skilled jobs."
The unions argue that the selection of the Westinghouse AP1000 for Wylfa would bring around £3bn into a UK supply chain, generate 5,000 jobs on Anglesey, and sustain the Springfields Fuel Plant in Central Lancashire for decades, safeguarding over 1,000 jobs, apprenticeships and graduate recruitment opportunities.
It would also maintain Westinghouse's regional office in Chorley, with its 40-strong staff, and create a Westinghouse Services business in the long term with the potential for over 200 additional jobs in Central Lancashire.