The Nuclear Industry Association(NIA) hosted a fringe event at the Conservative party conference in Birmingham with Christopher Pincher MP and representatives from EDF and the Institute of Directors.
Keith Parker, chief executive of NIA made clear that £110 billion of investment is needed in nuclear projects by 2020. These include major refurbishments to five nuclear power stations across the UK. Each of these projects is the size of the Olympic park so the potential for economic growth and new jobs is significant.
Mr Parker estimated that at least 30,000 new jobs will come from this latest wave of nuclear infrastructure projects, together with extra technical training and apprenticeships.
Increasing nuclear power in the UK would also have other benefits including improving UK energy security. As a low carbon technology nuclear can also contribute towards reducing overall carbon emissions.
Nigel Knee from EDF said that the low carbon economy had a leading role to play in the wider economic recovery.
He said EDF hope to work with co-investor Centrica on the redevelopment of Hinkley Point in Somerset. This would bring a massive boost to the regional economy of £100 million during each year of construction and £40 million once operational. The project would also endeavour to use local employees as well, and has invested in a construction skills training centre and an energy skills centre to provide training.
He also called for a proportion of local business rates to be retained locally to help stimulate local and regional growth.
He concluded that the project would be a UK success story that would be delivered “safely, on time and on budget”.
Corin Taylor from the Institute of Directors said that his organisation represented 40,000 business directors across the UK who are largely supportive of nuclear power.
He said it was the cleanest energy source and that nuclear used less natural space that wind farms.
Mr Taylor said that gas prices were likely to fluctuate in the coming years and could decrease due to shale gas exploration. This “could leave nuclear looking very costly. Getting this right will be a big challenge but it is crucial” he said.
Christopher Pincher MP (Tamworth) is a member of the energy and climate change select committee. He said that there was : “widespread agreement that we need a new generation of nuclear power stations”.
He said when private investors have to pay £8 to £10 billion for new nuclear power stations you need to know what regulatory and tax frameworks will looks like in the long term.
He added that : “in John Hayes you’ve got a minister who is determined to see nuclear as part of the energy mix. He is a worthy successor to Charles Hendry”.