Ministers must act “as urgently as possible” to clarify how the nuclear industry will be regulated after Brexit, MPs have warned. The Commons energy committee, which has been investigating the impact of Brexit on energy policy, urged the UK to delay leaving Europe’s nuclear regulator. Power supplies could be threatened if a new regulator was not ready, it said. Ministers had told the committee that guaranteeing the UK’s supply of nuclear fuel was a “high priority”. The report, by the cross-party Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee, warns that Brexit could distract the government from introducing policies to tackle climate change and result in key standards being removed. It says there is a long-term risk the UK will become a “rule-taker” – unable to influence European rules and standards it has to comply with – and says plans to leave the European regulator Euratom have not been thought through.
BBC 2nd May 2017 read more »
The government must ensure that Britain’s nuclear industry is not hit hard by Brexit as the UK withdraws from the European Union body overseeing co-operation, MPs have said. The business, energy and industrial strategy committee warned that taking Britain out of the European Atomic Energy Community would threaten trade, research and even power supplies if alternative arrangements were not put in place. Withdrawal from Euratom was an “unforeseen” consequence of Brexit, the committee said, recommending that Britain delayed leaving the organisation beyond the two-year deadline for the exit negotiations. Industry groups have set out the consequences of leaving Euratom without agreeing deals to allow continued co-operation. In February the Institution of Mechanical Engineers said that creating a new state body should be a priority for the government and said that foreign involvement in the nuclear industry would be impossible without new treaties. The MPs said that leaving Euratom would have “potentially severe ramifications”. Ian Wright, Labour chairman of the committee, said: “The continued operations of the UK nuclear industry are at risk.” Sir Vince Cable, the Liberal Democrat former business secretary, said that withdrawal would be madness. “The report makes clear that leaving will threaten power supplies,” he said. “It shows the dogma of the Conservative Brexit ultras that they are prepared to risk power supplies, trade and research just for misguided ideological reasons.” Mr Wright said: “The prime minister has made it politically unfeasible to remain in Euratom. The government now has a responsibility to end the uncertainty hanging over the industry and ensure robust and stable arrangements to protect trade, boost research and ensure safeguarding.”
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MPs are also worried that Brexit could distract the government from achieving emissions reduction targets, enshrined in domestic law. The committee’s report recommends maintaining access to the internal energy market and retaining membership of the emissions trading system until 2020 at least. Alternatives include retaining unrestricted energy trade between the UK and the EU, or seeking third party access to the market. The University of Cambridge suggested that energy cooperation could be reframed as an issue of security rather than trade, and an energy security treaty could be established with neighbouring countries. “We believe that membership of the internal energy market has been beneficial to UK and EU consumers and has helped provide flexibility and certainty to the supply of energy,” MPs said. “We therefore agree with the government’s intention to retain as free as possible access to this market and the intention to remain an influential player on energy in the EU. “While there are undoubtedly weaknesses in the operation of some EU policies on energy and climate change, notably the EU emissions trading system, the secretary of state, Greg Clark, acknowledged that cooperation with EU partners was generally mutually beneficial. The UK has consistently been a driver of high standards and ambitious climate change targets.”
Guardian 2nd May 2017 read more »
The calls for a decisive stance for nuclear within the Brexit negations come amid a growing crisis of confidence in the Government’s ambitious target of securing 12 new nuclear reactors in the coming decades. The flagship new nuclear project, EDF Energy’s planned £18bn Hinkley Point C plant, was initially expected to begin to power the grid by the end of 2017 but has been heavily delayed and may only begin generating electricity in 2026. In recent weeks the future of NuGeneration’s £15bn Moorside project in Cumbria has also been thrown into doubt after the financial troubles of lead-developer Toshiba were exposed, and its US nuclear division filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Toshiba is hoping to sell NuGen after project partner Engie, formerly GDF Suez, quit the consortium by selling its 40 per cent stake back to Toshiba. The exit was prompted by the collapse of Toshiba’s Westinghouse subsidiary which was tasked with providing the reactor design for the plant. According to weekend news reports, the embattled Japanese conglomerate has been forced to push the project on to the back burner by slowing down work on the site while it hunts for a buyer. A spokesman for NuGeneration was not available for comment. In addition, the Chinese nuclear developer behind three of the UK’s planned nuclear power plants voiced concern late last week that Brexit has cast doubt over the nuclear cooperation between China, France and Britain. Zheng Dongshan, senior vice president of CGN, said at an industry event that the decision to leave Euratom as part of Brexit will “create some uncertainties” for its UK plans.
Telegraph 2nd May 2017 read more »
The Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee warns that the Government has left the UK nuclear industry at risk and must act urgently to ensure its continued operation post-Brexit.
Parliament 2nd May 2017 read more »
Ministers must act to safeguard the future of Britain’s nuclear sector by delaying the exit from the industry’s Europe-wide community, MPs have warned.
Politics Home 1st May 2017 read more »