The Rt Hon Greg Hands MP met with pioneering scientists and experts at NNL, the UK’s national laboratory for nuclear fission, as part of a visit to the Springfields site 

The National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL) was very pleased to welcome the Minster of State for Energy, Clean Growth and Climate Change, the Rt Hon Greg Hands MP, and other government colleagues to NNL’s Preston Laboratory today, as part of a visit to the Springfields site.

Following recent announcements underscoring nuclear’s key role in helping the UK meet its urgent net zero targets, the visit was a chance to see how some of the sector’s top scientists and experts are working on the next generation of advanced nuclear technology. This includes developing the prototype fuel pellets that could be used in an Advanced Modular Reactor (AMR), as part of the proposed UK demonstration programme.

The Minister and visitors met with NNL’s Chief Executive, Paul Howarth and other members of the NNL leadership team and had the chance to see first-hand some of the work they are doing in support of NNL’s purpose as the UK’s national laboratory for nuclear fission: harnessing nuclear science to benefit society.

During a tour of the advanced research facilities, the team from NNL explained to the Minister how its Preston Laboratory is a key part of the UK’s nuclear infrastructure and a strategic national asset. He was able to see results from advanced fuels research, delivered as part of the Advanced Fuel Cycle Programme (AFCP), which NNL runs on behalf of BEIS, as well as learning about the new Advanced Nuclear Skills and Innovation Campus (ANSIC) pilot based on the site. The pilot – launched earlier this year – is bringing together partners from across the public and private sectors, in the UK and internationally, to meet the needs of industry and UK government.

The Minister also heard more about the scientists’ pioneering work beyond clean energy at NNL; this includes in the areas of environmental restoration and health and nuclear medicine, thus aiming to repurpose used nuclear materials which might otherwise be wastes, in ways which can improve lives and the environment.

Throughout the visit, the value of collaboration across the nuclear sector was emphasised in driving future innovation and development. This includes NNL’s close working relationship with Westinghouse and wider sector partners to ensure that the Springfields site remains a flagship UK manufacturing base for advanced nuclear fuels – building on the site’s unique capabilities and workforce, and with the potential to create many more high-value green jobs, grow the UK supply chain and level up across the region.

The Minister commented:

“I was delighted to visit the National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL) at their world-leading laboratory for scientific research and innovation in the North West of England.

“The work they are doing to develop advanced fuels for the next generation of nuclear reactors will be essential to the UK’s ambitions to build our national capabilities and secure our position as a global leader in these clean energy technologies.

“It is fantastic that we have a national laboratory in the NNL that is driving the key research and development we need to meet our net zero goals, whilst promoting UK skills, jobs and interests.”

Paul Howarth, Chief Executive Officer of NNL, added:


“It was a pleasure to welcome the Minister and his colleagues to visit our Preston Laboratory today. We very much appreciate them taking the time to come and see first hand the pioneering work we do here harnessing nuclear science to benefit society, including the AFCP and ANSIC programmes both of which have been underpinned by significant Government funding. I’m looking forward to working with the Minister and his team to take forward some of the topics we discussed during the visit.”