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. I have a request to make to the Government, who will be considering the responses to the consultation on the road map. I was keen to hold this debate now, during the period of the consultation, so that Members can have their own views as well. I appreciate that it would not be easy or desirable for Great British Nuclear to make technology-by-technology recommendations for every nuclear site in the country, but there should be a recognition of footprint size. There are sites, such as Dungeness in my constituency and Sizewell in that of my right hon. Friend Dr Coffey, where smaller facilities could easily be built. They could be built on decommissioned land, where old power stations have been subject to advance decommissioning. They could be built on land that was used as the building works site for the construction of the existing Dungeness B station, or even on the land that is currently a car park for the existing nuclear stations.

We need to give the market some certainty that buildings of a certain size can sit within the footprint of an existing nuclear site, on land that does not have the highest levels of habitat protection, but at present that is not envisaged. What the consultation envisages is that every site on the list must be able to do everything. If there is to be no distinguishing feature between different sources of technology, we are not distinguishing between a single SMR unit and something as big as Hinkley Point C. There must clearly be some relaxation, because otherwise other sites that are currently among the eight locations on the existing list will not be included on the new list.

The industry will have an opportunity to come forward with recommendations to the Department and make a case for individual sites—but obviously without the certainty of knowing that it is believed that technologies below a certain footprint would be suitable there—and to take into account all the other important site considerations such as the local workforce, grid connections, access to water for cooling if it is required.

I think it would be much better if, following the consultation on the civil nuclear road map, we could provide certainty about the types of technology that are possible on some of the smaller sites, so that developers and businesses coming forward with those technologies would know they look with confidence at some of those sites. I think that would make a huge difference to sites such as Dungeness, which in other respects ticks every box in respect of its suitability for new nuclear. It is on the grid, it has a domestic labour market, and it has strong support from the local community. In almost every case, the existing nuclear sites are the most supportive of investments in new nuclear, because people are already familiar with the industry and know how many jobs would be created.

If the Minister could say something about this today it would be much appreciated, but I should certainly like it to feature in the Government’s response to the consultation. As I said earlier, I am not seeking site-specific information about each technology, of which there could be many more in the future, but I hope it will at least be recognised that the big difference between SMRs and reactors the size of Hinkley Point is literally that: their size. SMRs will not be suitable everywhere—in fact, they will be suitable in relatively few places—but other technologies will be suitable on a wider base. If the Government are to meet their target, they will have to do so by deeming sites that are not currently being deployed to be suitable for SMRs. We should give the industry as much backing as possible in making that investment.