The UK is set to sign a deal with France that would see the two nations combine efforts to develop civil nuclear energy. The Anglo-French deal is said to be worth £500 million, creating more than 1,500 jobs. The agreement will allow the UK to start the construction of a new generation of nuclear power plants.
A statement issued by Downing Street said: “This joint declaration will signal our shared commitment to the future of civil nuclear power, setting out a shared long term vision of safe, secure, sustainable and affordable energy, that supports growth and helps to deliver our emission reductions targets.”
Cameron told the gathered press that the nuclear agreement marked a “historic partnership”, that was “just the beginning” of Government’s ambition for nuclear that could reach £60 billion and create 30,000 jobs.
Cameron continued: “I want the vast majority of the content of our new nuclear plants to be constructed, manufactured and engineered by British companies. And we will choose the partners and technologies to maximise the economic benefits to the UK. Today marks an important first step towards that – a good deal for Britain and a good deal for France.”
The joint-agreement follows the announcement of eight nuclear energy sites across the UK. The first of which, at Hinkley Point in Somerset, is set to be worth £400 million to Rolls-Royce. The British power systems provider will build a dedicated factory in Rotherham as a direct result of the deal, generating 1,200 jobs in the process.
The Energy Secretary, Ed Davey, said: “We need hundreds of billions of pounds of investment in clean energy projects in the UK. This will bring high-skilled job opportunities the length and breadth of the country.”
The development of new nuclear stations across the UK forms part of the Department of Energy and Climate Change’s focus on a “diversified energy mix”, which supports technologies that will help the UK meet the 2020 target in a cost-effective and sustainable way.
Government’s promise of 1,500 new jobs in the nuclear sector will be particularly hard to swallow for the British solar industry, which is set to lose 5,000 jobs over the next year as a result of DECC’s proposed revisions to the feed-in tariff system.
Davey maintains that as a result of the joint-agreement: “Supply chains will spring up and extend the reach of economic benefit across the country.”
The Prime Minister summarised: “As two great civil nuclear nations, we will combine our expertise to strengthen industrial partnership, improve nuclear safety and create jobs at home.”