John Hutton sets action plan for nuclear new build

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In an announcement made today, UK Business Secretary John Hutton emphasised the importance of new nuclear energy in the UK’s future energy policy and set out further information on the Government’s action plan for enabling the development of nuclear new build following the Nuclear White Paper published in January.

His announcements, which were made at a Government-hosted conference attended by top industry and Government representatives (including the Energy Minister Malcom Wicks and the Chancellor of the Exchequer Alistair Darling), aimed to demonstrate the Government’s commitment to the development of nuclear energy and will be of interest to stakeholders wishing to get involved in the development, operation and financing of new nuclear power stations in the UK.

Overall objective

John Hutton stated that the UK Government should do everything it could to ensure new nuclear power stations were available as soon as possible and that the Government’s aim was for the UK to “become the world’s number one location for new nuclear investment.”

Action plan

To fulfil this objective, John Hutton unveiled the Government’s action plan to promote nuclear new build in the UK, which includes:

  • the creation of a new Office of Nuclear Development, to enable effective cross-Government work on nuclear energy;
  • the creation of a new Nuclear Development Forum to be chaired by John Hutton, to bring Government and industry together to progress nuclear new build;
  • the publication of draft criteria for deciding on the siting of new nuclear power stations (the Strategic Siting Assessment).

Tim Stone, a senior adviser to John Hutton, also presented initial findings from his review of the UK’s nuclear regulatory regime, focusing on issues surrounding recruitment and retention of staff and measures to assist the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate (NII) Chief Inspector in driving forward a new culture at the NII.

John Hutton also highlighted the need to meet the expected increase in demand for trained staff, and called for applications for membership of the Nuclear Liabilities Financing Assurance Board, which will provide independent advice to the Secretary of State on the suitability of the financial element of the Funded Decommissioning Programmes for new nuclear power stations.

To read our previous law-now on the Nuclear White Paper, please click here.