GMB Union calls for new nuclear power plants to help reach net zero
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The GMB Union has called for a new generation of nuclear power plants in order the help UK meet its 2050 net-zero carbon emissions pledge.
The motion, which was announced at the annual TUC Congress in London, calls for the construction of a new “generation of nuclear plants, benefiting communities from Sizewell to West Cumbria and the development of Small Modular Reactors.”
Particular mention was made of the Sizewell C project in Suffolk, which could support an estimated 25,000 jobs once in progress.
GMB said that government and opposition politicians should now get on with agreeing a funding model to deliver Sizewell C and unblock stalled projects at Bradwell, Oldbury, Moorside and Wylfa Newydd.
French energy giant EDF submitted an application to build Sizewell C, which will be able to generate around 3.2GW of electricity, in May 2020. The government later entered discussions regarding the construction of the new £20bn power station, which will be almost identical to Hinkley Point C, hopefully making it cheaper to construct.
Hinkley Point C has had a tortured development process with final approval for the project being beset by delays and indecisiveness, as well as a ballooning budget.
Last month, EDF delayed its final decision on Sizewell C and may leave it until late 2023 before making the final decision on whether to go ahead with construction.
GMB said the nuclear sector supports more than 60,000 jobs in its supply chain and it offers one of the “highest employment multipliers” of any low-carbon energy source.
Andy Prendergast, GMB National Secretary, said: “The climate crisis affects us all so we must tackle it together. But there can be no net zero without new nuclear. The labour movement has sent out a clear message: new nuclear projects like Sizewell C not only create tens of thousands of jobs – they are vital to saving the planet. If politicians of all parties are serious about the climate emergency and a green economic recovery they must invest in new nuclear.”
GMB’s calls come as electricity prices reach record highs in the UK driven by the soaring cost of natural gas and a warm, dry and windless start to autumn 2021.
Renewable sources of power, such as wind, are generating less energy than expected and networks are burning more fossil fuels which are rapidly rising in price.
This is combined with the fact that some generators that were mothballed over summer have yet to restart, making wholesale electricity prices surpass their highest-ever level.
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