Civil Nuclear Road Map

Part of Backbench Business – in the House of Commons am 2:32 pm ar 22 Chwefror 2024.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Damian Collins Damian Collins Chair, Draft Online Safety Bill (Joint Committee), Chair, Draft Online Safety Bill (Joint Committee) 2:32, 22 Chwefror 2024

I completely agree with the right hon. Gentleman. I will come on to that in more detail—that is normally an excuse to say I am not going to answer his question, but I wholeheartedly agree with what he says and I want to give it some attention as I go through my remarks.

The advent of advanced nuclear technologies and small modular reactors is the big thing that is different now compared to 2011. They give us more flexibility in the technologies that can be deployed. I also agree with the premise of the right hon. Gentleman’s point: this is exciting not just because it opens up new opportunities for nuclear power in the UK, but because it creates an opportunity for a renaissance in the civil nuclear industry in the UK. It is particularly exciting to see British firms such as Rolls-Royce leading the development and design of new small modular technologies. While the Government have their competition to identify best bets in terms of technologies to invest in, we need to look not just at the unit price of that technology, but at the wider impact and benefit to the UK economy of investing in the new technology, in particular the modular reactors that can be factory built and assembled. They can be designed not just to meet our energy demand; they could also be an export industry for the future for the UK. That is an incredibly important part of the equation.

In designing the civil nuclear road map and through the creation of Great British Nuclear, the Government have tried to make it as easy as possible for the industry to work with the Government, to understand what the Government’s needs and objectives are, and to understand the technologies that they may seek to invest in. I think all of that is welcomed. Certainly, the people in the industry I have spoken to welcome that step, which creates a degree of certainty. We are looking at far more players to be involved in the UK nuclear market than was the case in the past, with a far greater range of technologies and different businesses investing in them and developing them in the UK, Europe, the United States and further afield. This is all to be welcomed and encouraged.

I appreciate why it is difficult for the Government now, as it would have been in the past, to say, “These are the technologies that we know with certainty we can back” because the range is so great, but nevertheless we need to give certainty to the market and investors. The Government’s competition for SMRs is also important, but there will be developers of technologies that do not necessarily require Government subsidy and support, but simply seek sites where they can deploy their technology and know they connect to the grid.