IMechE responds to MP report on the risks to the UK nuclear sector from Brexit

Published:  16 May, 2017

Dr Jenifer Baxter, head of energy and environment at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, said the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee’s report ‘Leaving the EU: negotiation priorities for energy and climate change policy’, was right to flag the risks to the UK leaving the EU, and consequently Euratom, for the nuclear sector.

She said: “The Committee is right to flag the risks to the UK leaving the EU, and consequently the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom) for UK nuclear sector. As the Institution identified in our February report, without suitable transitional arrangements, the UK runs the risk of not having an appropriate safeguarding system for nuclear material. In addition, the UK may struggle to access the markets and skills that enable the construction of new nuclear power plants and existing power stations may potentially be unable to access fuel.

“With the Article 50 process taking just two years, the UK Government must act quickly to start the process to develop Nuclear Cooperation Agreements to enable continuity of international trade, for goods such as nuclear fuels and research. Government must make sure that the UK will be able to access sector specific skills not currently available in the UK, such as centrifuge technology expertise. Securing the UK’s world leading nuclear energy and radioactive waste research facilities associated with Euratom is vital and must be part of the transitional arrangements at the point exit.

“Making these transitional arrangements will be difficult, but not impossible, particularly given the short time-scale. If done correctly this could present the UK with opportunities to speed up the process of developing new nuclear power plants and reprocessing facilities, boost UK nuclear skills as well as open up the UK to more international trade deals.”

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