Government publishes nuclear action plan

The government has published its Nuclear Supply Chain Action plan today after the Energy Minister, John Hayes, spoke of the nuclear industry’s major role in securing the UK’s energy supplies as well as generating new economic growth.

The move has prompted further concerns among clean energy campaigners over the government's commitment to encouraging the development of renewable energy generation in the UK.

The plan includes details on the establishment of a Nuclear Industry Council that is set to hold its first meeting in early 2013. The plan is intended to ensure that the UK nuclear supply chain is competitive. Hayes said: “Energy is central to our economic future and at the heart of all we do as a nation. Just as atoms collide in a nuclear reactor, the economic benefits of our nuclear renaissance will reverberate far and wide across the country.”

The release of the action plan follows the launch of a new campaign that is seeking to generate around 500 jobs at the Sellafield nuclear site in West Cumbria. Hayes added: “The announcement of 500 jobs at Sellafield today shows the immense contribution of the nuclear sector to the UK economy, in particular that of West Cumbria. Our Action Plan for the nuclear supply chain will set out how the UK can make the most of future opportunities presented by around £60bn of new investment.”

Government’s recent publication of its Gas Generation Strategy and the Nuclear Supply Chain Action have left many renewable investors worried about government’s commitment to the industry. Leonie Greene, Head of External Affairs, questioned the timings, saying that “it begs the question if government is running two parallel energy strategies, and the extent to which they are in competition”.

The coalition government had faced criticism from the Committee on Climate Change over the inclusion of nuclear as a technology supported under low-carbon payments through the Contracts for Difference (CfD) scheme. Some renewable developers have expressed concerns that the development of nuclear will take up a proportionally large amount of the £7.6 billion set aside under the levy control framework to develop low carbon projects – including solar.