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 330.

    Firstly, we haven't yet worked out how to keep the nuclear waste safe for thousands of years. Secondly, these plans are a dangerous distraction from the real solutions to climate change. The cost is diverting much needed investment away from the proven technologies of wind power and energy efficiency. The time they will take to build means that our C02 targets will be missed leading to runaway CC.

  • rate this

    Comment number 329.

    The British once had a high status engineering presence on the world stage but we now seem incapable of making anything except debt? This is no doubt something to do with the national obsession of kicking balls around and imagining prowess in kicking balls around 'well' signifies someone important?

  • rate this

    Comment number 328.

    Just now

    In a word, no.

    Imagine there was just one mobile phone and one mobile phone supplier. They could charge you what they wanted. Nationalisation is the worst thing the UK could do, even IF the UK could afford it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 327.


    Why is it ok for us to have civil nuclear energy & not the Iranians?"

    We haven't criticised the Iranians for wanting nuclear energy. The problem is they appear to be building nuclear weapons as well and have threatened to wipe at least one nation off the face of the earth. I don't recall the UK making similar threats.

  • rate this

    Comment number 326.

    The reason we need to go out to foriegn partners for this sort of deal is not because of some sort of bizarre CND agenda pursued by Whitehall. A preposterous idea. Is because the public sector has been treated by successive governments as something to be ransacked for the private gain of their City paymasters.

    No investment. No strategy. Gouging the consumers (us). Much more of this to come

  • rate this

    Comment number 325.

    7 Minutes ago
    ".... The number of people who have been killed by the effects of burning coal (respiratory illnesses, drought caused by global warming) is in the tens of millions."

    Not to mention all the miners killed in accidents, or with lung diseases, or the environment colapsing in to disused tunnels or pit shafts, or blighted by huge open cast schemes.

  • rate this

    Comment number 324.

    We desperately need nuclear power, but can't we get it from someone who is not out to get us all the time?? Surely we have learnt our lesson by now, the USA has world-leading nuclear technology!

  • rate this

    Comment number 323.

    If Germany can announce it is giving up on nuclear power, why do we think this is the future?

    The potential for a disaster goes on and on into the distance with this form of energy - and the costs, too.

    Yes, there need to be alternatives. But without a plan everything is left to private companies and their only real concern is whether it makes a quick buck or not - therein lies the problem.

  • rate this

    Comment number 322.

    Instead if having private companies push up the costs of energy bills each year, can't the government just nationalise the energy companies in this country? Then British jobs and skills are kept, unemployment rate here goes down, and our bills aren't at the mercy of some businessman wanting to get rich quick.

  • rate this

    Comment number 321.


    ". . .I believe our needs could be met by every pitched roof having photo-voltaic panels fitted."

    Totally agree, especially if we turn off a few gadgets that we don't really need. Unfortunately though photo-voltaic panels don't have weapons-grade plutonium as a by-product, so conveniently produced by "civil" nuclear energy.

  • rate this

    Comment number 320.

    Many posts implying a national emasculation at the hands of France. Wrong, it was the selling off of our utilities that created these conditions. It's too late for chauvinism, should have thought of that when everyone was making some loot from the big sell-offs & now we pay the true price of those Thatcherite, Milton Friedman inspired policy.

    That's capitalism, tant pis as they say in France ;)

  • rate this

    Comment number 319.

    1) Nuclear power has a much better safety record than any other power supply option in the UK
    2) Until fusion reactors have had the issues due to turbulence sorted fission reactors are an excellent low carbon technology to supply energy which is able to supply base load electricity.
    3) Waste disposal has been appropriately researched and demonstrated with geological disposal.

  • rate this

    Comment number 318.


    "...The number of people who's death or illness was directly attributed to a nuclear accident would probably fit in a school classroom...."


    Is that why we still have charities to give thousands of radiation-sick children, from hundreds of miles around Chernobyl respite breaks from their contaminated homeland? Some classroom.

  • 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 316.

    Great idea, it'll go down a bomb!

  • rate this

    Comment number 315.

    Fossil fuels are the only efficient way to generate power. Fact. Forget all the doomsday climate scare stuff - it isn't going to happen. Get those mines open again and burn coal.

  • rate this

    Comment number 314.


    "The number of people who's death or illness was directly attributed to a nuclear accident would probably fit in a school classroom."

    If the classroom was the size of Chernobyl.

  • rate this

    Comment number 313.

    Energy self-sufficiency is mandatory and vital to national security. Why allow Russia and middle-east to dictate UK/european policy? Invest in nuclear now, we maximise domestic energy production in the future - no shortages, oil crises or resulting economic problems. Renewables produce fraction of energy output and energy efficiency is minimal, it won't overtake oil and gas anytime soon.

  • rate this

    Comment number 312.

    264. ExaltedOne
    The only ones I was referring to are the people who completely dismiss Nuclear on the grounds that peter rabbit might be inconvenienced. Of course the nuclear disasters of Chernobyl and Fukushim were absolutely terrible but Nuclear is much safer these days and Britain’s geographical situation is far from the likes of Japan.

  • rate this

    Comment number 311.

    What happened to Shale oil?


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