23 January 2024
Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown urges government to speed up nuclear power programme

Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown intervenes in a debate on the civil nuclear roadmap and Wylfa to call on the Government to move forward with the road map as with the demise of the advanced gas-cooled reactors in 2030 there will be a dip in nuclear power. He calls on the Government to consider the options of small modular reactors and advanced modular reactors which could be brought online quicker than a new gigawatt power station. 

Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown (The Cotswolds) (Con)

My hon. Friend’s enthusiasm for Wylfa is absolutely infectious, although there may be a little bit of competition for a gigawatt power station from Oldbury or Berkeley. That aside, through my hon. Friend the Member for Ynys Môn (Virginia Crosbie), I urge my hon. Friend the Minister to get on with the nuclear road map, because come 2030, with the demise of the advanced gas-cooled reactors, we will have a dip in nuclear power. Will he particularly consider that we might be able to get small modular reactors and advanced modular reactors online quicker than a new gigawatt power station?

Virginia Crosbie (Ynys Môn) (Con)

I thank the hon. Gentleman for his excellent and timely intervention. We produce 6 GW of electricity from nuclear, and all but one of our nuclear reactors are going offline in the next decade. If we are to achieve 24 GW of electricity from nuclear by 2050, we need gigawatts, we need SMRs and AMRs, and we need to all work together to deliver to that timetable.


Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown 

My hon. Friend is making a fantastic speech in support of nuclear but, as he knows, the Public Accounts Committee visited Sellafield the other day. Sellafield’s whole operation is predicated on the eventual building of this geological disposal site, but the consultation has been very slow. Can my hon. Friend do anything to speed up that consultation?

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero (Andrew Bowie)

I thank my hon. Friend for that contribution. I am convinced that our approach to selecting sites for a geological disposal facility is right for the country. I hear my hon. Friend’s views and share his frustration with the speed of consultations when the Government are running them. However, we need to ensure that we select the best site and that that site will be sustainable, have public support and be suitable for delivering this second-in-the-world geological disposal facility, which is what it will be once it is delivered.

I put on record my support to the officials who are running the consultation. It is not an easy consultation, and what they are embarking on is the first of its kind in this country. We are learning a lot from the Finnish example. They have just received the first payload to put into what they have described as their “hole in the ground”—their geological disposal facility. Nevertheless, I hear my hon. Friend and will take his views back to the Department to see what might be done to speed up the process and ensure that we can get this facility built in the United Kingdom as quickly and as safely as possible, which will be to the benefit of us all.