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South West nuclear industry can play key role in UK’s recovery
The South West’s nuclear industry can play a vital economic, social and environmental role in supporting the UK’s recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, sector body Nuclear South West has revealed.
Stefan Cecchini, vice chair of Nuclear South West told industry representatives that the region’s skills, research expertise, supply chain and delivery capacity makes it ideally placed to lead a programme of renewal.
Progress with construction at Hinkley Point C nuclear power station sits at the heart of activity worth more than £20bn to the region. It will also play a key role in helping the UK achieve its ambitions for carbon neutrality in the coming decades.
Cecchini, who also works for tier 1 Hinkley Point C contractor Framatome UK, said: “The South West has demonstrated the ability and capability to match the scale of the ambition for the economic and environmental challenges we all face.
“Europe’s largest construction project at Hinkley Point C has recently seen the completion of the 49,000-tonne base for the second reactor, which was delivered on time during lockdown. The Hinkley Supply Chain team is actively supporting the project as it enters the next phase of work, which will see opportunities for companies from across the South West.
“We are also looking ahead to how we can secure a lasting legacy for the South West and the UK, drawing on the vast range of research and technical experience in the nuclear sector to bring forward new opportunities.”
The update comes as the government looks at ways to accelerate the design of the UK’s first nuclear fusion power station, which it has supported with a commitment to invest £220m.
Alongside the activity at Hinkley Point C, which builds on a history of nuclear generation in the area, additional areas of expertise based within the region include:
• Decommissioning, with a major programme of work underway at reactors in Winfrith, Dorset, and at sites in Oldbury and Berkley.
• A significant defence programme, with huge supply chain opportunities. In Plymouth, Devonport Dockyard operator Babcock has a pipeline of more than £30bn.
• World-leading research and development capabilities, with ground-breaking and innovative work taking place at the universities of Bristol, Bath, Exeter and Plymouth. The South West Nuclear Hub is leading the way in improving research capacity and building strong links between universities, industry and SMEs.
• Organisations based in the region including internationally-known names like EDF, Rolls Royce and BAE Systems.
Cecchini concluded: “The new normal will be shaped by organisations and industries that are collaborative, innovative and can inspire and motivate people to support its vision. The South West’s nuclear industry has demonstrated that it has these qualities in abundance. We’re looking forward to addressing the challenges the country faces together.”