11 January 2024

Government remains committed to Sizewell C timetable before a general election

11 January 2024

The Government remains committed to revealing a timetable for investing in the new nuclear power station at Sizewell C before a general election, a minister has said.

Energy minister Andrew Bowie faced calls from Labour to reveal the timetable for a final investment decision in the Suffolk power station before the end of the Parliament.

It came as Mr Bowie told MPs about the Government’s new civil nuclear roadmap, which sets out plans to provide a quarter of the UK’s electricity needs through nuclear power by 2050.

Under the proposals, the Government wants to explore the possibility of building another nuclear power station in the UK as large as Sizewell C, or Hinkley Point in Somerset.

It also announced a commitment to invest £300 million in UK-produced high assay low enriched uranium fuel needed to power high-tech new nuclear reactors, which is currently only commercially available in Russia.

But Labour said the roadmap was “two years later” than promised and “still leaves a number of unanswered questions about how the Government intends on turning warm words into practical action”.

Shadow business minister Sarah Jones said: “It is all well and good talking about commitments to new stations in the next Parliament but can he tell us the timetable for Sizewell C in its final investment decision?

“The Government promised to have a final investment decision by the end of this Parliament so can he give a categorical promise today that that will be done?

“Time is running out.”

She added: “Can he update us on the timetable for Hinkley Point C, originally promised to be delivered by 2017?

“When will it start supplying power to households?”

Mr Bowie replied: “She asks about the final investment decision on Sizewell C, we remain committed to making that decision by the end of this Parliament, and in fact on Hinkley Point C we are very proud of the progress that is being made.

“Just last month we saw the dome being lifted onto the top of reactor one.”

Elsewhere Mr Bowie was questioned about the future of small modular reactors (SMRs), a technology currently under development across the globe which is hoped could help to rapidly expand the production of nuclear power.

The minister told MPs the next phase of the UK’s SMR competition would be “launched within weeks”.

He added: “We are very excited to have six fantastic technologies to deploy in the United Kingdom and we are moving faster than any comparable programme around the world to ensure that Britain and the British people benefit from investment in small modular reactors and the benefits that they can bring to the energy mix and indeed local economies.”

Conservative former business secretary Greg Clark said: “Can I ask the minister specifically whether he will say whether the new site approval mechanism would allow these sites to be allowed for SMRs by the 2050 deadline and target that we have?”

Mr Bowie replied: “To answer his question directly, yes it will.

“The new siting strategy will cover the possibility for deployment of all technologies, SMR, AMR (advanced modular reactors) and indeed gigawatt scale reactors moving forward.”

The best videos delivered daily

Watch the stories that matter, right from your inbox