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7 December 2012 | Anna Reynolds
Improved access to export opportunities and advice for businesses looking to bid for nuclear contracts are two of the key areas highlighted in the government's action plan to boost the nuclear industry.
Speaking as the government published the plan, business minister Michael Fallon said: “This is an important part of our work with industry to shape a vibrant UK nuclear industry, and to ensure the UK exploits the commercial opportunities that exist and is a leading player in the expanding global nuclear market.”
The publication coincides with an announcement that the Sellafield Nuclear site in West Cumbria is taking on 500 new staff. Further job opportunities are expected as EDF Energy and Centrica plan to invest in new reactors at nuclear sites in Somerset and Suffolk.
John Hayes, energy minister said: “The announcement of jobs at Sellafield shows the immense contribution of the nuclear sector to the UK economy. Our action plan for the nuclear supply chain will set out how the UK can make the most of future opportunities presented by around £60 billion of new investment.”
The plan establishes a Nuclear Industry Council comprising government and industry representatives, which will hold its first meeting at the start of 2013.
The aim of the council is to ensure that the UK supply chain is in a good position to compete for contracts in the nuclear sector.
The plan also includes advice from the Nuclear Manufacturing Research Centre for small to medium-sized businesses looking to bid for big deals in the nuclear supply chain. Further, a nuclear export strategy will be developed to help the supply chain understand and respond quickly to market opportunities.
The government has also addressed key skills shortages in the sector and suggested ways of attracting talent, such as drawing on relevant skills from related industries and the redeployment of existing skills. Groups will also be set up from the major energy companies to identify challenges in building new nuclear plants.