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Use NDA To Build New Nuclear

Monday, March 4, 2013

GMB calls for nationalised nuclear development authority to build new nuclear power stations for low carbon electricity.

Call by Energy and Climate Change Committee for a contingency plan in case the nuclear industry does not deliver the new power stations we need is welcome says GMB.

GMB, the union for workers in energy and utilities, commented on the report from the Energy and Climate Change Committee on "Building New Nuclear: the challenges ahead" on Monday 4 March 2013 (HC 117).See notes to editors below for copy of press statement and links to the report.

Gary Smith, GMB National Secretary for energy and utilities, said "Big investment in UK energy infrastructure is required but the lack of a coherent plan for nuclear power is being exposed every day that passes.

GMB welcome the call by the Energy and Climate Change Committee for Minister to urgently come up with a contingency plan in case the nuclear industry does not deliver the new power stations we need.

GMB support having a UK owned company at the centre of developing new nuclear power. New nuclear power will be crucial to producing low carbon electricity in the UK and for jobs. The lack of UK involvement could mean that the UK misses out on the global nuclear renaissance.

It is essential that government takes steps to reassure industry and the public that they have a coherent strategy for new nuclear power.

Since the state has to step in to guarantee prices for return on investment for electricity suppliers why not go the whole hog and have a fully accountable nationalised delivery body particularly in the nuclear sector.

One obvious way forward is for Government to re-task the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority and re-name it as the Nuclear Development Authority to bring on stream the nuclear power stations we need. We need a nationalised Nuclear Development Authority because in terms of the massive investment needed the fact is British Industry is not match fit to do this.

Much of money paid by UK households to heat their homes will be spent on components that will be built abroad unless there are major changes. The experience in North Sea oil and gas shows that how British engineering industries can be global players. The opportunities in the nuclear industry are similar."

End

Contact: Gary Smith, GMB National Secretary on 07710 618 909 or 0207 391 6700. GMB Press Office 07921 289 880 or 07974 251 823

Notes to editors

Press release on "Building New Nuclear: the challenges ahead” as The Energy and Climate Change Committee published its report on Monday 4 March 2013.

Report: Building New Nuclear: the challenges ahead (HTML)

Report: Building New Nuclear: the challenges ahead (PDF)

Failure to build a new fleet of nuclear power stations in the UK could make it much more expensive to meet our climate change targets and Ministers must stop 'crossing their fingers' and urgently develop a back-up energy strategy, a report by the Energy and Climate Change Committee argues.

The Chair of the Energy and Climate Change Committee, Tim Yeo MP, said:

"If new nuclear power stations are not built on time, our legally-binding climate change targets will be extremely challenging and much more expensive to meet.

"The Government seems to be crossing its fingers that private companies will deliver a fleet of new nuclear power stations on time and on budget.

"Ministers need to urgently come up with a contingency plan in case the nuclear industry does not deliver the new power stations we need."

Industry has outlined plans that would deliver 16GW new nuclear power stations by 2025, but new build projects in France and Finland have experienced serious delays and cost overruns. Although the Government and industry have learnt some important lessons from this process, there are still a number of obstacles which could delay new build projects in the UK.

The MPs support the Government’s use of "Contracts for Difference" (CfDs) to help make new nuclear power stations easier to finance, but are concerned at the lack of transparency around the price negotiations between the Government and industry. The new contracts must provide value for money for consumers and should not be offered at a price that is higher than other low-carbon sources of energy, such as offshore wind, which is hoped to be around £100/MWh by 2020.

Tim Yeo MP added:

"Unlike gas-fired power stations, nuclear power stations are expensive to build but cheap to operate. It is right that investors should be given confidence that they will recoup their money by providing them with long-term contracts.

"But at the same time Long-term price guarantees for new nuclear power stations need to deliver value for money to consumers. Locking consumers into paying prices for nuclear power that are unacceptably higher than prices paid to renewables or carbon capture and storage projects would be wrong.

"It is disappointing that there is still so little transparency about the on-going negotiations between the Government and developers of new nuclear power stations.

"Government needs to provide more clarity about exactly what forms of support new nuclear projects will receive and whether consumers, taxpayers or project developers will have to cough up if construction costs end up being higher than anticipated."

Public attitudes have an important role to play in projects to build new nuclear power stations. The MPs are concerned that local communities might not be able to take part in planning consultations on an equal footing with the project developers. The report recommends that the Government should consider providing more support to local community groups so that they can engage better with the planning process.

The MPs argue that there should be benefits for communities that host new nuclear power stations. The Government has plans to allow local authorities hosting renewable energy projects to retain business rates. The report argues that this scheme should be extended to new nuclear projects too.

Tim Yeo MP concluded:

"Communities hosting nuclear power stations are contributing towards a national need for secure, clean energy and should be able to benefit from hosting these projects.

"Communities hosting renewable energy projects have been promised benefits. Those hosting new nuclear should also be entitled to benefits".

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