Lancashire showcases nuclear potential

By Tim Aldred

05 Mar 2020

Lancashire was represented as part of the Northern Powerhouse delegation which travelled to London to demonstrate its strengths in the nuclear industry.

The group attended a government-backed Civil Nuclear Showcase, putting forward its case for the region to harness a new wave of low-carbon next-generation nuclear energy, cementing its position as a global centre of excellence for decommissioning in the process.

More than 50 senior business, academic and local government stakeholders from the Northern Powerhouse's nuclear industry made up the delegation, which is lead by NP11 comprising 11 Local Enterprise Partnerships, and the public-private North West Nuclear Arc consortium.

Representatives from Lancashire highlighted the region’s outstanding nuclear expertise and capability with facilities including the Westinghouse Springfields facility in Preston, where the company has recently unveiled plans for a Clean Energy Technology park, the Heysham site which is the only UK location with two operating nuclear power stations, and the University of Central Lancashire’s role as one of the five Northern universities which make up the Nuclear Technology Education Consortium.

Collectively, they outlined the transformative socio-economic impact that a pan-Northern next-generation nuclear strategy could have, seeking governmental policy support.

David Levene, strategic coordinator at NP11, said: “The Northern Powerhouse is home to more than 75 per cent of the UK nuclear industry’s workforce and almost half of country’s nuclear energy is produced here. It is truly the core of our nuclear sector.

"We have an illustrious history in groundbreaking atomic innovation. That past has paved the way for us to collectively seize the opportunity presented by a new wave of next-generation nuclear technology that is altogether safer, more efficient and more sustainable.

“The design and manufacture of this pioneering technology presents an incredible opportunity for businesses in the supply chain and is expected to support tens of thousands of high-value jobs. If the government truly wishes to level up the towns and cities across the North, it should continue to support both the programme and the wider nuclear industry here.”

Dr Rebecca Weston, co-chair of the North West Nuclear Arc, added: Despite the country making a welcome move towards zero carbon by 2050, and the production of cleaner, cheaper energy, based on current predictions, the National Grid will still require a 50gigawatt baseload requirement which can’t currently be met by renewable sources alone.

“Next-generation nuclear energy remains the greenest way to meet that shortfall. The North has the fusion of skills, infrastructure and nuclear-licensed assets to deliver it.”

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