Constituency matters… a weekly column by the Member of Parliament for Folkestone and Hythe, Damian Collins 15 January 2024
Civil Nuclear Roadmap
The publication this month of the Government’s Civil Nuclear Roadmap marks another significant step forward in our campaign to guarantee the long-term future for the nuclear industry at Dungeness. Overall, the Roadmap outlines plans for the biggest expansion of nuclear power for 70 years, providing a massive investment which will substantially expand nuclear power, with the benefit of reducing electricity bills, supporting thousands of jobs and improving UK energy security.
The Roadmap also sets out how the UK will increase the generation of this homegrown supply of clean, reliable, and abundant energy by up to four times to 24 gigawatts (GW) by 2050 – enough to provide a quarter of the UK’s electricity needs. As part of this Roadmap, the ‘Alternative Routes to Market’ consultation aims to explore how the government can attract more private investment from businesses into nuclear technologies of the future. This is a ground-breaking step which puts the UK at the forefront of innovative nuclear technology.
In the House of Commons on 11 January, I asked the Nuclear Energy Minister, Andrew Bowie, about the importance of sites like Dungeness as potential locations for advanced and small modular nuclear reactors. In response he made clear that the government, ‘will look at every site and possible site and judge them on the basis of what type of technology could be built there,’ adding, ‘That will benefit his community [Dungeness], communities around the country and the United Kingdom more widely.’ This ambition is backed by a commitment to various cutting edge nuclear technologies over the next few decades, including Small Modular Reactors (SMRs), Advanced Modular Reactors (AMRs) and Gigawatt (GW) scale projects like Hinkley Point ‘C’ and Sizewell ‘C’. Last year Andrew Bowie also joined us for a site visit at Dungeness so that he could see for himself the great potential that it has.
The government is also now launching a public consultation on a proposed new policy for siting new nuclear power stations in England and Wales beyond 2025. This consultation marks an important first step in the process for developing a new nuclear National Policy Statement. At the start of this consultation the government recognises that it needs more nuclear sites than are currently included in the national policy framework if it is to realise the ambition of providing one quarter of the UK’s electricity from nuclear power. This again is good news for Dungeness, and I will do all I can to ensure that its suitability, in particular as a location for small modular reactors is recognised.
Nuclear power has to be an important contributor
This is probably the most important moment for nuclear energy in this country for fifty years and I want to make sure that future generations in Kent and on Romney Marsh in particular, continue to benefit from the positive impact of this industry. Renewable energy from the sun, wind and sea will continue to be a growing source of the power that we need, but if we are to meet our ultimate target of reducing and minimising the use of carbon energy, then nuclear power has to be an important contributor to that ambition.