Mini nuclear reactor firm Newcleo snubs Britain for the French


Mini nuclear reactor firm snubs Britain for the French: Newcleo blames political chaos for decision to build prototype across Channel

Britain’s nuclear power ambitions suffered another setback as a UK company chose France to build its prototype reactor.

Newcleo blamed political upheaval in Westminster for its decision.

The mini-nuclear power station company said it waited in vain for ministers to give the green light over where to site the project – leaving it no option but to take the work over the Channel.

Hopes for the mini-nuclear sector were raised by Boris Johnson’s plans for a government-backed body called Great British Nuclear to support the development of new sites.

The move will cost hundreds of potential UK jobs and casts further doubt on the country’s nuclear future.

Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Newcleo chief executive Stefano Buono told the Mail: ‘Changing government three times has not helped.

‘We were expecting a decision before, but I understand that when the government changes, it’s very difficult to take decisions.’

Britain is scrambling to replace its fleet of six large nuclear plants, five of which are due for closure by 2028 and one, Sizewell B, in 2035. 

Hopes for the mini-nuclear sector were raised by Boris Johnson’s plans for a government-backed body called Great British Nuclear (GBN) to support the development of new sites.

Speaking in the Commons yesterday, the former prime minister urged the Government ‘to exploit this country’s technological lead and build a fleet of small modular nuclear reactors as part of our Great British Nuclear programme’.

Business Secretary Grant Shapps said GBN would be up and running shortly and said small modular reactors would play ‘an important part’ in boosting nuclear power supplies. 

The Government wants 25 per cent of power to come from nuclear by 2050. Last year it supplied 15.5 per cent.

Privately-owned Newcleo, which is about to launch a £900million funding round, is one of a number of companies planning to build mini-nuclear power stations around the UK. 

The plants will be much smaller than traditional nuclear reactors, but the idea is that by being quicker and cheaper to assemble they will provide a significant boost to energy supply as the UK tries to wean itself off fossil fuels.

Ministers have backed the idea, but have been criticised over a lack of clarity needed to enable companies to invest.

Buono said: ‘It has been a setback, a little bit, to our strategy. We wanted to make a prototype in the UK and we have decided to do it in France.’

Buono’s frustration with the Government follow comments to the Mail from Warren East, the outgoing chief executive of Rolls-Royce, which also has plans for its own chain of mini-nuclear stations. East said the Government needed to ‘get on with it’ and put in place a funding framework for the industry.

The Italian added: ‘I founded a company in the UK because I felt that the UK was the best country to develop new reactors. We made a bet on the UK and so far I am very happy.’

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