On the historic day that Andrea Leadsom withdrew from the Conservative leadership race and Theresa May was formally announced as the new party leader, the South West’s own leaders were in the House of Commons setting out for parliamentarians the £50 billion worth of business opportunities up for grabs for businesses that can provide services for the nuclear industry in the region.
The event: “The South West - Powering the UK's Nuclear Future” was hosted by Bridgwater MP Ian Liddell-Grainger, in whose constituency Hinkley Point C is situated. Tom Greatrex, former Shadow Energy Minister and now chief executive of the Nuclear Industry Association, and Matt Burley, chair of the Nuclear South West Industry Network Board, gave speeches to around 70 attendees, including MPs and civil servants. A delegation from Nuclear South West included representatives from the three local enterprise partnerships – Heart of the South West, West of England and GFirst – local council figureheads and business leaders.
The event aimed to bring together parliamentarians and south west nuclear industry leaders to set out the economic potential the region has to support the UK energy sector and ensure the Government recognises the unique opportunities that exist in the south west.
Ian Liddell-Grainger MP said: ““The South West is a global contender in the nuclear energy sector and it offers the potential to create tens of thousands of new jobs and generate billions of pounds for the local and national economy. MPs in our region are committed to supporting and championing the sector. It’s great to see nuclear industry businesses bringing the South West opportunity to Westminster and working with Government to help create the right conditions for growth in the sector – there’s never been a more important time to do this.”
Steve Hindley, Chair of the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership said: “The South West is the UK’s leading region in the global nuclear renaissance.
“We’re at the ready to claim first-mover advantage in the UK’s nuclear sector, due to the next generation of power stations being started right here at Hinkley Point C. It’s Europe’s largest engineering project, will generate 25,000 new jobs and £14billion investment.
“It’s not just about Hinkley though. There are 15 nuclear opportunities worth £50 billion in this area; so we’re very excited about our cross-LEP & business–led partnership under the banner of Nuclear South West.
“We urge our Right Honourable Members to join us in showcasing the South West’s unparalleled strength and potential for transformational growth; right here at the nucleus of the nuclear industry.”
West of England LEP chair, Stephen Robertson, said: “The south west is at the forefront of the UK nuclear industry and is leading the way with research and skills training. With over 180 nuclear companies and organisations already in the south west the potential growth and innovation in this sector is huge. Getting nuclear right in the south west will harness the supply chain potential for local companies of all sizes across the south west.”
Dr Diane Savory OBE, Chair of GFirst LEP, said: “The nuclear-based power generation industry has long been a feature of the Gloucestershire economy and we must ensure that the skills infrastructure supports the growth in the economy, by future proofing and meeting the skills needs of businesses affected by workforce displacement to the demands of the nuclear industry.
“Funds from our Growth Deal have been invested in a Gloucestershire centre of excellence in Renewable Energy, Engineering & Nuclear skills (GREEN) in anticipation of the unprecedented expansion of nuclear, low carbon energy, and engineering in Gloucestershire and the South West. The centre will open in September 2017.”
Matt Burley, Chair of NSW Industry Network Board said: “The future of the nuclear industry in the south west and the scale of financial opportunity that could be unlocked for businesses of different sizes and sectors is enormous.
“We’re working hard to raise awareness and understanding of this opportunity across the region. Businesses are in a fantastic position to take advantage of the national and international nuclear programmes. There are many different services required to support the industry, from equipment suppliers to waste management, and nuclear research facilities to specialist consultancies.”
Nuclear South West (NSW) is a partnership between the nuclear industry network in the south west and the stakeholder alliance of the Local Enterprise Partnerships: Heart of the South West, West of England and GFirst; the academic and skills sector and business support agencies.