Speaking at an energy event at the Trades Union Congress in Brighton, Rebecca Long-Bailey MP, the shadow business, energy and industrial strategy (BEIS) secretary, said: “We have said, and we set this out in our manifesto, that the nuclear industry is one of the UK's oldest industries and we are very proud of that.
"We want to make sure it remains as one of the jewels in the crown of British industry along with other sectors like automotive and aerospace.
”We pledged support for nuclear projects and we committed to protect nuclear jobs and pensions.”
The shadow business secretary was speaking on the day that it was announced that some offshore wind projects could offer a guaranteed price below that agreed with EDF for Hinkley. This news has been seized on by long-term nuclear critics to suggest there is no longer a role for nuclear. However Ms. Long-Bailey rejected this view, saying: “There is a risk, I think, to be jumping from one potential renewable energy source to the other as the answer to all of our energy woes. But we don’t think that in the Labour party. We are quite committed to the fact that we have got to have a sustainable energy mix.
“We can’t support one sector over the other, we have to support all forms of renewable technology, particularly going forward. We have pledged that through our national transformation fund, national investment bank and our regional investment bank, which will be set up after Labour gets into power.”
Prospect, which is the largest union for nuclear engineers and specialists, is campaigning for a New Deal for Nuclear, including maintaining UK links with Euratom as part of Brexit and protecting the world-leading JET fusion centre at Culham in Oxfordshire.
The shadow BEIS secretary also gave an explicit commitment to the nuclear energy sector being part of Labour’s new industrial strategy including “a very comprehensive investment and support plan both for the nuclear industry and for our other renewable energy technologies”.
There is an increasing cross-party consensus over the importance of investing in new nuclear capacity, to decarbonise the UK electricity supply and guarantee energy security.
For the Conservatives, Richard Harrington MP, parliamentary under-secretary at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, recently told the House of Commons that: “sector deal [for nuclear] is at an advanced stage, and we hope it will be one of the first that we are able to announce”.
Prospect will also be taking part in similar events at the Labour party and Conservative party conferences over the next few weeks, where we hope to lobby ministers over the importance of the nuclear sector on behalf of the Prospect members who work in it.
The meeting was organised by Trade Unions for Safe Nuclear Energy and also addressed by speakers from the Nuclear Industry Association and the GMB, as well as Prospect general secretary Mike Clancy.
- Download Prospect's brochure, "A New Deal for Nuclear"