Ministers should unveil their energy White Paper urgently to allay fears about the future of the UK’s nuclear industry, following the announcement that Hitachi is pulling out of the Wylfa nuclear project and EDF Energy is bringing forward its closure of the Hunterston nuclear power station in Ayrshire.
Unite fears that the closure of the Hunterston by January 2022 will have an adverse knock-on impact on jobs at Springfields Fuels in Preston, Lancashire which produces the fuel to power the country’s civil nuclear reactors.
Unite is calling on Alok Sharma, the secretary for business, energy and industrial strategy, to publish the long-awaited White Paper on energy and to ensure that any future nuclear power stations use the fuel that is produced at Springfields, which supports an estimated 4,000 highly skilled jobs in the north west.
The need for the White Paper is given extra urgency by yesterday’s (September 15) news that Hitachi is withdrawing from the Wylfa Newydd nuclear build project in Anglesey and the devastating blow that will mean for the Welsh economy.
Horizon Nuclear Power has now announced it will be ceasing its activities to develop two projects in the UK following the Hitachi decision.
The TUC this week passed a motion to lobby government to take immediate steps to establish a tripartite forum, including the recognised unions, to secure the future of Springfields Fuels and the high quality jobs that it supports. It also reiterated the call for the publication of the White Paper.
Unite national officer for energy Peter McIntosh said, “We desperately need clarity in the energy White Paper which ensures nuclear power is a crucial part of the energy ‘mix’ in the decades ahead, providing a source of ‘clean’ and reliable electricity, as well as creating skilled ‘green’ employment.
“A strong commitment to ‘new’ nuclear will give a confidence boost to the future development of such sites as Bradwell (Essex), Moorside (Cumbria) and Sizewell (Suffolk), following the devastating announcement yesterday that Hitachi won’t be proceeding with the Wylfa project and the news from Horizon today,” he added.
“The bringing forward the closure of Hunterson does raise worries for our members at Springfields in Preston – and we will need their highly prized skills in the post-pandemic, post-Brexit economy.
“Unite calls on business secretary Alok Sharma to outline a coherent strategy in the White Paper that knits together the needs of the economy, the consumer, the energy sector and all those who work in it.”
By Shaun Noble