Nuclear build: A Vote of No Confidence?

In this report we propose a number of recommendations which could help bridge the confidence gap between industry and the government, and help the nation achieve its long-term low-carbon targets.

With less than 40 years to reduce our greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 80%, the UK government has recognised the need for a new nuclear build programme.

For the UK to achieve the 2020 and 2050 targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, all sectors of the economy will need to play their part in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The energy and transport sectors, which between them account for over 50% of GHG emissions, are of particular concern due to their heavy reliance on fossil fuels.

We firmly believe that it is the role of the government to provide leadership and commitment to industry if these tasks and targets are to be achieved. The relationship between industry and the government must be one which is built upon trust and confidence. We believe that in the case of nuclear new build, this confidence is not as strong as it needs to be. We propose, via the recommendations made in this report, solutions to help correct this situation.

These include the provision of enabling support and actions to encourage sectors to transition to low-carbon alternatives, including the reduction of red-tape and removal of obstructions which inhibit investment. We also recommend clear communications with the public and industry about the reasons why we need to achieve these ambitious targets, even if they are not popular.

Key recommendations

We urge the Government and other key stakeholders to consider the following three recommendations to ensure the UK’s ambition to transition to a low-carbon economy can be met:

  1. The government should initiate and demonstrate leadership and commitment to the UK nuclear build programme by resolving key enabling issues including planning, grid connection, nuclear waste, and offering loan guarantees or setting a minimum carbon price.

    This authoritative approach by the government (without the need to invest directly in the sector) would give the nuclear consortia the confidence to invest nearly £50 billion into the UK and help transition the UK to a low-carbon economy.
  2. The government should show clear commitment to a second-wave nuclear new build programme beyond 2025.
    This phase is crucial if the UK wishes to transition its transport sector (namely road and rail) and the built environment towards electricity, and encourage the development of a reinvigorated UK manufacturing base, positioned to exploit the substantial nuclear new build markets emerging worldwide.
  3. The government should identify ‘vital occupations’ needed for the nation’s future low-carbon development, with the nuclear power industry being one such occupation. Such nationally critical occupations should be financially incentivised, including course fee repayment, to bring in the necessary quantity and quality of talent to these professions.

    We believe it essential that the UK develops the skilled engineers and technicians required to build, maintain and ultimately decommission nuclear power stations. This is central to maintaining the UK’s ‘Gold Standard’ reputation for quality and safety.

Related links

Read the press release:
Institution responds to Chancellor’s plans to speed up house building in the UK

Read the Institution News article:
Modular off-site building could solve UK’s housing crisis


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