UK and France sign nuclear energy agreement


Nicolas Sarkozy described David Cameron as "a brave man"

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The UK has signed a deal with France to strengthen co-operation in the development of civil nuclear energy.

The government said it reiterated the UK's commitment to nuclear energy "as part of a diversified energy mix".

The coalition said the agreement would create a number of commercial deals in the nuclear energy field, worth more than £500m and creating 1,500 UK jobs.

The deal was signed at a summit between PM David Cameron and President Nicolas Sarkozy in Paris.

'Joint framework'

"This joint declaration will signal our shared commitment to the future of civil nuclear power, setting out a shared long term vision of safe, secure, sustainable and affordable energy, that supports growth and helps to deliver our emission reductions targets," a statement from Downing Street said.


Personal relations between Nicolas Sarkozy and David Cameron have not been warm of late.

There have been tetchy remarks flying in both directions, the French irritated by the British veto on the European fiscal treaty, the British annoyed by what seem to be sometimes rather gratuitous criticisms of the UK economy coming out of Paris.

Summits like this oblige a different tone and so the emphasis will be on the long-term and deeper shared interests between the countries, especially in the civil nuclear and military fields.

For Mr Sarkozy, this could be one his last encounters as president with David Cameron. In the polls he's way behind the socialist challenger Francois Hollande, who incidentally will himself be visiting London at the end of this month.

The two governments will work together with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) "to strengthen international capability to react to nuclear emergencies and establish a joint framework for cooperation and exchanging good practice on civil nuclear security".

The move comes 11 months after a tsunami in Japan wrecked the nearby Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, leaking radioactive material into the air and sea.

UK and French public and private sector bodies in the civil nuclear power industry will also work more closely in a number of areas.

These include education and training, research and development, and security.

"As two great civil nuclear nations, we will combine our expertise to strengthen industrial partnership, improve nuclear safety and create jobs at home," said Mr Cameron.

Eight sites

Last June, ministers announced plans for the next generation of UK nuclear plants.

Sellafield Nuclear Plant There are plans to build a new nuclear power plant at Sellafield in Cumbria

The government confirmed a list of eight sites it deems suitable for new power stations by 2025, all of which are adjacent to existing nuclear sites.

The sites are: Bradwell, Essex; Hartlepool; Heysham, Lancashire; Hinkley Point, Somerset; Oldbury, Gloucestershire; Sellafield, Cumbria; Sizewell, Suffolk; and Wylfa, Anglesey.

Rolls-Royce is expected to win a £400m ($632m) share in the building of the first of the planned power plants.

France's Areva will supply the core of the nuclear reactors and Rolls-Royce will supply other engineering work.

"Rolls-Royce will become our prime manufacturing partner to supply some £100m of key critical components of the reactor for each EPR [next generation nuclear power plant] that's constructed in the UK," said Robert Davies from Areva UK.

Rolls-Royce plans to build a factory in Rotherham to meet orders resulting from the deal.

Earlier this month, the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission approved the first nuclear reactors to be built in the country since 1978.

Map of nuclear sites

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  • rate this

    Comment number 317.

    A cautious thumbs up from me. Just so long as they properly consider how these things are safely decommissioned when they reach end of life; and not to leave a mess that our children and grandchildren inherit.

    I see fission reactors as only a stop-gap until sustainable nuclear fusion is possible.

  • rate this

    Comment number 279.

    Do we really need nuclear power? Have we properly explored other options? Better energy conservation, for example, which, in theory, should be implementable in a far shorter time than nuclear. And what happened to the idea of 'devolved generation' - where each household generates their own energy as well as being supplied from a grid. I fear the dead hand of 'vested interest' has fallen here.

  • rate this

    Comment number 255.

    As a civil engineer I welcome this news. The 'old guard' of british engineers that were involved with many of the original build and modification works on the existing plants are fast dissapearing. It is therefore important that we move quickly to ensure that knowledge is transfered to the new generation of engineer whilst also embracing new technology and lessons learned from previous builds.

  • rate this

    Comment number 241.

    My concern is that nuclear power results in long term (thousands of years!) costs of storage and decommissioning, but private companies have no interest once the ability to make money is finished. Yes we need an alternative to oil, but we need to invest in R&D into renewables (not subsidies for inefficient ones) to make them viable - wind and wave power on this island!

  • rate this

    Comment number 186.

    Putting aside the important issue of safety for a moment.

    Foreign ownership of our essential services and resources is getting completely out of control and this adds to it.
    Water, gas, electricity, transportation all with vast ownership of foreign private of state companies who are making profits from the British.

    When push comes to shove we will be at the mercy of foreign interests.


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