An ambitious deal with the nuclear sector to ensure that nuclear energy continues to power the UK for years to come has been announced by the Business and Energy Secretary Greg Clark.
The Nuclear Sector Deal, worth over £200 million, has been developed by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy working closely with the nuclear industry, alongside New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), Heart of the South West LEP and Cumbria LEP. It will spearhead Britain’s move towards cleaner economic growth, while promoting new opportunities in the sector including a focus on innovation to develop the technology and skills needed to maintain the UK’s position as one of the world’s leading nuclear countries.
The deal also includes firm commitments from industry to reduce the cost of new nuclear build projects by 30% by 2030 and the cost of decommissioning old nuclear sites by 20% by 2030, and a strong commitment to increasing the gender diversity of the workforce, with a target to take the percentage of women in the industry from its current level of 22% to 40% by 2030.
The Sector Deal will unlock growth opportunities in the nuclear supply chain through joint Government and industry support for smaller companies to access higher value contracts and new markets. LEPs will play a key role in delivering this support, with the east of England recognised in the deal as a national cluster of nuclear expertise, where further support will improve supply chain competitiveness and productivity and provide enhanced local access to nuclear innovation.
The deal also outlines a number of skills provisions with potential benefits for the East, with regional apprenticeship pilots, more engagement between the industry and schools on STEM careers in nuclear, and a commitment for the sector to consider supporting the expansion of the National College for Nuclear to the east of England.
Doug Field, chair of New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “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. Alongside our rapidly growing offshore wind industry, this deal puts us in a strong position to help the UK meet that challenge.”
Business and Energy Secretary Greg Clark said: “The UK is the home of civil nuclear technology and with this investment in innovation and our commitment to increasing diversity in an already highly-skilled workforce, I want to ensure we remain the world leader.
“Nuclear energy not only fuels our power supply, it fuels local jobs, wages, economic prosperity and drives UK innovation. This Sector Deal marks an important moment for the Government and industry to work collectively to deliver the modern Industrial Strategy, drive clean growth and ensure civil nuclear remains an important part of the UK’s energy future.”
Paul Warmington, Energy Skills Development Co-ordinator at Suffolk County Council, said: “We’ve worked closely with BEIS and the Nuclear Skills Strategy Group on the development of this deal, so we welcome the comprehensive skills action plan that will deliver the skills we need. The focus on people within the deal is key to the sector’s success, and the east of England is in a strong position to provide that focus and provision.”