30th January 2015
Copeland MP, Jamie Reed, this week hosted an event in Parliament on ‘Creating Regional Growth through Nuclear Investment’. The event discussed the wider economic benefits and regional growth brought to areas by the nuclear industry.
Speaking at the event, Jamie Reed talked about the aspiration for Copeland to become a global centre of excellence for the nuclear industry, emulating the success of Silicon Valley in California.
Other speakers at the event were Baroness Verma, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Energy & Climate Change, George Beveridge, Deputy Managing Director, Sellafield Ltd., and Sandy Rupprecht, Chief Executive, NuGen.
In his opening remarks, Jamie Reed MP said:
“As a third-generation Sellafield worker, I was delighted to play a role in helping to draft the pro-nuclear energy policies before us today and Labour’s commitment to the industry – always strong – is now more purposeful than ever before.
Consider for a minute, our nuclear communities. Think of where they are and what they are like.
As a rule of thumb, our nuclear communities are peripheral communities with fairly low levels of population, found on the coastline and by definition, far removed from our major conurbations, most powerful economies and centres of power.
In many of these areas, times have been hard for a long time.
Typically areas of market failure, reliant upon low wage service sector jobs and public sector employment; the shrinking state and the continuing demographic shifts of working age people away from these areas already presented profound challenges before the global crash of 2008, but this intensified these processes in these communities.
Now, turn back the clock to the 1950s, 60s and 70s and imagine explaining to the people of these communities and their civic leaders that the nuclear plant you wanted to build on their doorstep was a guarantee of long-term economic activity, that it would provide well-paid jobs for generations, that the infrastructure investment it would leverage would be significant and that they would be undertaking a nationally vital role and perhaps they wouldn’t have believed you.
In any event, most nuclear communities, whilst benefiting from the nuclear industry, have never really managed to seize the opportunities that their local industry provided them with.
Jump forward to today, and consider those same communities in the context of their own needs, our national needs and some of the biggest policy challenges facing any government: energy policy, economic policy and environmental policy.
Today, we should see these as complementary, not competing policy areas, and in no other industry are these three areas most comprehensively and effectively addressed than through the nuclear industry.
So today, new nuclear should help us to secure our energy supplies, reduce our CO2 emissions, revitalize our manufacturing and engineering sectors and help connect our businesses and our workers with global opportunities in the sector.
On the ground, the provision of well-paid jobs, the creation of intelligent supply chains, the establishment of new education, training and research facilities and the necessary infrastructure improvements in the communities where new nuclear is being established should be transformational.
In my constituency, the home of Britain’s Energy Coast, we intend to emulate as Silicon Valley.
We aim to be a global centre of excellence for the nuclear industry.
This means becoming a magnet for investment, it means developing a physical, economic and civic environment the envy of any comparably sized UK community and it means growing our regional economy through nuclear investment.
Similar opportunities are realizable through nuclear decommissioning supply chains – in some cases greater ones.
All of this helps to achieve one of the most important policy challenges facing our country: the rebalancing of the economy.
Rebalancing from service sector and financial sector jobs – all of which are important – towards a new, physical, high skills based economy.
Crucially, it also means rebalancing our economy so that economic growth doesn’t just rest upon (and economic opportunities are not just limited to) our established metropolitan areas – the South East in particular – and towards those peripheral economies in the north, south, east and west of our country.”