This week will go down as the week when the Hinkley Point C Final Investment Decision was finally taken, but the champagne was left on ice pending the Government’s review. Given the stakes for UK energy security it is vital this is completed post haste.
Admittedly less importantly, this week also marked the NIA’s first member’s breakfast briefing – our latest benefit to members. Assuming this was a success – and the initial feedback is positive – we hope this will be the first of many.
This first event, held one month on from the referendum, looked at what Brexit means for the nuclear sector. About 25 members attended and, following coffee and croissants, I gave a brief presentation outlining the process we expect to be followed on the road to Brexit, including the new Government structures put in place to achieve this.
Fiona Reilly (Atlantic SuperConnection LLP) then went on to talk in more detail about the likely impact on key energy issues, including the status of the Euratom Treaty, and the implications for nuclear research funding. The slides we used are available for NIA members on our website.
Following the presentations René McTaggart, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) then joined us for a very lively Q&A session. René’s day job is Head of International Policy for Nuclear Safety and Radioactive Waste Management, but he has now taken on responsibility for assessing Brexit impacts for the nuclear sector. Following many years negotiating with EU officials on all things nuclear René was able to provide us with real insight into a very arcane area.
In broad terms the message was positive. Whilst it may be early days and the Government’s EU negotiating lines are only now being worked up, the reality is the significant challenges we face in replacing electricity generation plant have not gone away and we still need to meet our energy and climate change objectives, EU or no EU. In fact it was telling one of the key points in BEIS’ very short statement on Hinkley yesterday was that, “The UK needs a reliable and secure energy supply and the Government believes that nuclear energy is an important part of the mix.”