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Celebrating nuclear success

John Stevenson MP

08 August 2018

The recent £200 million Nuclear Sector Deal was a vote of confidence from the Government in the long-term importance of the nuclear and nuclear-related industries for many years to come.

The Cumbria Nuclear Conference is a celebration and an opportunity. It is a celebration of the success of the nuclear sector and its associated industries across Cumbria, and it is an opportunity to further that success. Cumbria has been home to the commercial nuclear sector for longer than anywhere else in the world. In the six decades that nuclear power has been operating in the county, a complex web of high-tech supply chain industries has matured. Sixty years of nurturing nuclear expertise in Cumbria has resulted in some of the world’s foremost engineering and scientific expertise on nuclear matters being based in the county.

This is a key theme of the Conference. The most high-profile site for the nuclear industry in Cumbria is Sellafield on the county’s west coast, but this is by no means the only place where nuclear-related activity takes place. An enterprise as complex as nuclear power requires a wide array of expertise. It is more accurate to think of the nuclear industry in Cumbria as a county-wide ecosystem, a complex web of industry and enterprise interlocking to bring together some of the world’s foremost expertise on all matters nuclear.

When I host the second Nuclear Conference this September, I want to make sure that all the voices in our Cumbrian nuclear supply chain are heard. It is vital for a healthy Cumbrian nuclear sector that everyone involved in nuclear and nuclear-related industries has a voice and an opportunity to contribute to the debate.

By encouraging closer collaboration and coordination between all nuclear-related industries, I believe the Cumbria Nuclear Conference will help make the sector in Cumbria stronger. By encouraging a cohesive, united relationship across the full spectrum of the nuclear activity, the nuclear sector in Cumbria can speak with a louder and clearer voice to the fullest range of possible stakeholders.

With £4 billion in GVA being generated by the nuclear industry in the north-west, much of it centred in Cumbria, the nuclear industry is a seriously important asset to the county and to the UK as a whole. All in all, it contributes £12.4 billion to the national economy. But that can grow further, and the recent Nuclear Sector Deal lays down the challenge to make this happen. The Government’s target is for the UK nuclear industry to secure up to £2 billion in domestic and international contracts by 2030. In order to meet this target, the nuclear industry and its allied industries need to act in a coordinated and forward-thinking manner.

Innovation is one of the key watchwords of both the Sector Deal and the Government’s wider Industrial Strategy, and when it comes to nuclear innovation, some of the world’s most cutting-edge advances are being made in Cumbria. The National Nuclear Laboratory has its headquarters in the county, and has been the birthplace of advanced technologies that have been deployed on an international scale.

The innovation-led growth will be further encouraged by the £32 million boost provided by the Government and industry to kickstart a new advanced manufacturing programme. But this innovation cannot succeed without the collaboration required for its coordination which is a key theme the Cumbria Nuclear Conference seeks to promote.

As the MP for Carlisle, I have recognised that economic activity does not begin and end at the boundaries of my constituency. It is absolutely vital that we do not think just about our own area. What is good for one part of the county is good for the whole area.

What I want to see is a growing nuclear industry that brings jobs and prosperity to the whole region adding volume to the local economy, as well as making a contribution to the national economy. September’s Cumbria Nuclear Conference is about ensuring that Cumbria’s contribution is recognised. But, also ensuring it has a very positive future.

 

The Cumbria Nuclear Conference will take place on 20 – 21 September 2018, and is kindly sponsored by: WYG, NuGen, Centre of Nuclear Excellence, and the University of Central Lancashire.

For more information visit the website.