Guarded welcome from nuclear sector unions to announcement from Business Secretary Vince Cable

Tim Lezard

radioactive logoUnions have welcomed plans to bring part of the nuclear power industry back into direct government control, but say much of the Coalition’s strategy for the sector is a “shambles”.

It follows an announcement by the Business Secretary Vince Cable of multi-billion pounds investment in the nuclear industry, which the government says could create 40,000 jobs in the UK over 20 years.

Prospect, which represents 12,000 researchers and specialist workers across the industry, welcomed plans to bring National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL) into direct government control.

The NNL operates 6 sites in England, including Sellafield in Cumbria, Preston, Stonehouse in Gloucestershire and Harwell in Oxfordshire – originally the site of Europe’s first nuclear reactor.

Prospect negotiator Jez Stewart said: “On the surface it looks like a positive move that will reinforce NNL’s position at the heart of nuclear R&D in the UK.

“With this news published alongside the government’s new industrial strategy for nuclear, we hope it will yield investment and faster decision-making in a crucial sector that can drive economic growth.”

The Business Department says it intends to bring NNL back under government control from April 2014. Unions say they expect to be fully consulted on revised governance plans and the impact of the decision on the workforce.

However, others questioned wider aspects of the government’s announcement.

Gary Smith of the GMB said: “Having a strategy is fine but who is going to implement it?

“The Government’s track record on energy is a shambles.

“Our nuclear industry is being hawked off piecemeal and the truth is there is no real delivery strategy to ensure the UK benefits from a nuclear renaissance as the country did from North Sea Oil.

“The delay in agreeing the price to be paid for electricity to be generated in the fleet of nuclear power stations we need is very damaging for investment, jobs and for a low carbon economy in the UK.”

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Tim Lezard

Campaigning journalist, editor of @Union_NewsUK, NUJ exec member; lover of cricket, football, cycling, theatre and dodgy punk bands

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