Department for Business, Innovation and Skills
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National Nuclear Lab given green-light

National Nuclear Lab given green-light

DEPARTMENT FOR BUSINESS, ENTERPRISE AND REGULATORY REFORM News Release issued by The Government News Network on 23 July 2008

Business Secretary John Hutton today confirmed the Government will establish a National Nuclear Laboratory, and launch a competition to appoint a commercial operator to run the organisation.

The National Nuclear Laboratory will become an international centre of excellence in nuclear research and development, playing a vital role in cleaning up both the UK's nuclear waste legacy, and also contributing to the programme of nuclear new build.

Mr Hutton confirmed that after detailed work, a business plan for the long term development and viability of the laboratory was now in place.

Earlier this year John Hutton gave the go-ahead for industry to come forward with plans for a new generation of nuclear power stations. Today's announcement aims to ensure that the UK's ambitions for a new generation of nuclear power stations are matched by the required skills and expertise.

Mr Hutton made the announcement during a speech in Sellafield to launch the West Cumbria Masterplan - a £2 billion regeneration initiative that sets out the vision to build on the area's nuclear expertise and to create 16,000 jobs and boost the economy by £800 million.

Mr Hutton said:

"It is now clear nuclear power will need to continue to play a crucial role in our low carbon future. The creation of the NNL will safeguard the UK's high-tech nuclear expertise, facilities and skills.

"The people of West Cumbria know that a career in the nuclear industry is something to be proud of. I am determined the UK makes the most of its unrivalled nuclear skills base. To secure our future energy needs, we will need thousands of skilled men and women across the UK to take advantage of the 100,000 jobs new nuclear could bring to the UK."

The NNL will bring together world-class nuclear research capability comprising the staff in Nexia Solutions and facilities owned by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA), including the Sellafield Technology Centre. It will be owned by Government, but run by a commercial operator - whose aim will be to put the new organisation on a firm commercial footing. The new commercial operator, to be in place by spring 2009, will be expected to make the most of an emerging domestic and international market for nuclear technology and research services.

Commenting on the launch of the West Cumbria Masterplan - known as the 'Energy Coast', Mr Hutton said:

"West Cumbria has a key role in helping the UK achieve our energy goals of tackling climate change and securing our future energy supplies. This ambitious blue-print will make the area a dynamic, vibrant place to live and work for decades to come. Building on its strong foundations as the birthplace of civil nuclear power in the UK, I call on West Cumbria to stand ready to seize the opportunities in terms of jobs and wealth from the transition to a low-carbon economy."

Notes to editors

1 Nexia Solutions has around 750 staff. This represents a significant portion of the UK's civil nuclear R&D capability. Nexia provides science-based 'technology', rather than 'pure R&D', to support the UK's civil nuclear operations and clean-up programme, particularly at Sellafield. The NDA portfolio in 2007/8 is expected to contribute 72% of revenues, with BE and MoD contributing a further 24%. International work is currently about 2%.

2. Sellafield Technology Centre (BTC) comprises inactive facilities including office accommodation for over 280 people in an open plan accommodation area and laboratories for general chemistry, materials and corrosion studies. The active areas of the BTC have been designated as Phases 1, 2 and 3. BTC phase 1 and office suite, is currently active with BTC phases 2 (High inventory Plutonium suite) and phase 3 (Highly Active suite) in care and maintenance. The new management contractor will help explore whether there is a business case for phases 2 and 3 to be commissioned.

3. Ministers announced the intention to establish a new National Nuclear Laboratory on 24 October 2006.

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