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Small modular reactors could provide UK with key opportunities post-Brexit

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The UK should focus on developing Small Modular Reactors (SMRs), including at Trawsfynydd in Wales, to secure the country’s future nuclear industry post-Brexit, according to a new report.

The Institution of Mechanical Engineers report, which follows the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Select Committee report into the risks to the nuclear industry posed by Brexit, outlines possible routes the government could take to leaving the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom) regarding issues such as safeguarding, nuclear co-operation agreements, research and development and regulation.

The Leaving the EU, the Euratom Treaty Part 2: A Framework for the Future report says SMRs could present the UK with key export opportunities and return the country to the international nuclear reactor supply arena. The Institution is also calling for the UK to develop its own Safeguarding Office, to ensure the country conforms to international rules on safety and non-proliferation, but says the UK should remain an associate member of Euratom for the specific purpose of R&D.

“The BEIS Select Committee was right to highlight the significant risks posed to our nuclear industry by Brexit,” said Jenifer Baxter, head of energy and environment and lead author of the report. “The UK’s departure from the EU and Euratom is likely to be complicated and difficult, but it also presents the country with an opportunity to reshape its nuclear industry and once again become a world-leading innovator in nuclear technology.”

Baxter said pushing ahead on the demonstration and commercialisation of SMRs would be a key way for the UK to once again become a world leader in the sector. This would help meet future energy demand, but also develop skills, local employment and build future export business.

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