Nuclear deals signed between UK and France

17 February 2012
By Rachael Fergusson
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David Cameron and Nicolas Sarkozy

UK Prime Minister David Cameron (L) and French President Nicolas Sarkozy (R) 

Nuclear agreements signed between France and the UK today will create more than 1,500 jobs in Britain, British Prime Minister David Cameron says.

The UK and France signed a raft of commercial deals and new agreements to cooperate on energy issues during a UK-France summit in Paris. A £400 million deal on nuclear reactors between Rolls-Royce and Areva was signed, which included the first EPR reactors at Hinkley Point, Somerset. A new Rolls-Royce factory would be established in Rotherham, which would support 1,200 new jobs across the nuclear supply chain in Britain.

A £100 million-plus contract between EDF and Kier/BAM for site preparation work to start in the spring at Hinkley Point was also signed, creating 350 jobs, and a £15 million pledge to create a training centre for future nuclear engineers at nearby Bridgwater College.

The two Governments also agreed a call for further studies into electricity interconnection between the UK and France, a deal to extend cooperation on civil nuclear security and share best practice on security at nuclear sites, an agreement to cooperate closely on research and development in the nuclear industry, and a commitment to work closely to ensure that both nations’ nuclear industries have the necessary skills in place.

British Prime Minister David Cameron said: “As two great civil nuclear nations, we will combine our expertise to strengthen industrial partnership, improve nuclear safety and create jobs at home.

“The deals signed today will create more than 1,500 jobs in the UK but they are just the beginning. My goal is clear. I want the vast majority of the content of our new nuclear plants to be constructed, manufactured and engineered by British companies. And we will choose the partners and technologies to maximise the economic benefits to the UK. Today marks an important first step towards that. A good deal for Britain and a good deal for France."

Edward Davey, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, said: “We need hundreds billions of pounds of investment in clean energy projects in the UK. This will bring high-skilled job opportunities the length and breadth of the country. Construction workers, engineers, technicians – they will all have a role to play.

“There are plans for new nuclear in Somerset, Suffolk, Cumbria, North Wales and Gloucestershire. Supply chains will spring up too, and extend the reach of economic benefit across the country. This investment could be worth around £60billion and create up to 30,000 jobs.”

Dr Tim Fox, head of energy at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers said: “Although it is welcome news that the UK is pressing ahead with the development of new nuclear reactors to secure affordable low-carbon electricity generation, this is not necessarily the best deal for securing UK jobs and skills. 

“Although some relatively small contracts are to be awarded to Rolls Royce and BAM Kier, it looks increasingly likely that the vast majority of the contracts involved in the manufacture and construction of the new nuclear reactors at Hinkley Point and Sizewell will go to France rather than the UK. An outcome the Institution predicted in its Nuclear New Build report two years ago.  

“The construction of the nuclear power stations at Hinkley Point and Sizewell will directly and indirectly create about 10,000 jobs. The UK has the ability to undertake about 70 per cent of the engineering and construction work of a new nuclear power plant. We must ensure that we do not miss out on an opportunity to develop UK industry, skills and jobs with the roll-out of the country’s new nuclear power stations.”

Also signed off today was an agreement to accelerate plans to create a joint control and command centre for future military operations.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Cameron also agreed to push ahead with the next phase of plans to build a new generation of pilotless "fighter drone" aircraft.

The bilateral programme will be worked on by Britain's BAE and France's Dassault - former rivals on the Typhoon project.

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