Ministers want to settle the question replacing Trident within weeks to stop the SNP turning next year’s Holyrood elections into a referendum on the nuclear deterrent
The future of Britain’s nuclear weapons is set to be decided within weeks as ministers plan to call an early Commons vote on Trident.
The government wants the question to be settled “by Christmas” to stop Nicola Sturgeon and Jeremy Corbyn turning next year’s Scottish parliament elections into a referendum on Britain’s nuclear deterrent, senior sources said.
Senior figures fear that a divisive debate over national defence would weaken Britain’s image abroad at a time of increased threat to national security.
Image:A decision on whether to renew Britain’s nuclear deterrent is expected next year
A vote in the Commons in December would also expose the deep split on the issue within Labour. The party’s new leader, Mr Corbyn, is certain to oppose replacing the nuclear-armed submarines but many of his shadow Cabinet members and MPs want to maintain the missile system.
The vote had been expected by the end of 2016, which would allow enough time for the first of the new submarines to be built before the existing fleet is taken out of service in the late 2020s.
However, the critical decision on whether to proceed with replacing Trident now looks likely to be brought forward.
The UK’s deterrent consists of four Vanguard-class submarines, each capable of carrying up to 16 Trident II D-5 ballistic nuclear missiles.
At least one submarine is constantly on patrol, while one undergoes maintenance and the other two carry out manoeuvers. The missiles are capable of hitting a target up to 7,500 miles away.
However, the Trident missile system, which was launched in the 1990s as a replacement for the predecessor, Polaris, is due to end its service from 2028. It takes about a decade to build and prepare a new submarine for service.
The full, like-for-like replacement of Britain’s nuclear deterrent would cost more than £25 billion and by some estimates up to £100 billion.
The parliamentary vote on whether to approve the replacement of all four submarines had been expected to take place in June 2016.
But ministers fear that this will make the future of Trident a defining issue at the Edinburgh parliament elections in May. The Scottish National Party leader, Ms Sturgeon, would be likely to campaign against replacing the submarines.
Read more here: The Telegraph
Physicist Jim Al-Khalili will present Britain’s Nuclear Secrets: Inside Sellafield and aim to tell the story of the country’s often controversial nuclear industry
Image: Sellafield nuclear plant is seen on February 24, 2005, in Sellafield, England. On March 17, 2011
Cameras are being allowed behind the scenes at the Sellafield nuclear power plant as part of a season of TV shows exploring the atomic age.
Physicist Jim Al-Khalili will present Britain’s Nuclear Secrets: Inside Sellafield and aim to tell the story of the country’s often controversial nuclear industry.
He said: “As a nuclear physicist, I found gaining such amazing access to somewhere as huge and important as Sellafield a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
“Little is known about Britain’s nuclear industry so it’s no wonder that the general public have tended to be so suspicious of it, sometimes with good reason.
“So telling the story of Britain’s nuclear history, both the past failures and the recent successes, is vital.”
The show, part of the BBC Four Goes Nuclear season, promises “unprecedented access to some of the country’s most secret buildings” and examination of incidents including the 1957 fire at the site and subsequent controversy over radioactive leaks.
Other programmes include a Storyville documentary about the atomic age using archive footage and complete with a score by Mogwai and a film about the men and women who built the first atomic bomb in the dying days of World War Two.
Image: Professor Jim Al-Khalili getting ready to split the atom
BBC Four’s channel editor Cassian Harrison said: “BBC Four Goes Nuclear will give our audiences a chance to contemplate the history and the extraordinary potential of our nuclear age.
“We have unique access to Britain’s most renowned nuclear facility with the documentary Britain’s Nuclear Secrets: Inside Sellafield, alongside other captivating new and archive programmes for the channel.
“BBC Four Goes Nuclear will consider the nuclear age from all sides – its ground-breaking opportunities as well as its terrifying dangers.”
Power station near Sellafield will have its own railway station, health centres and local amenities, with a transport infrastructure to take pressure off local roads.
Image: Existing power station: Sellafield nuclear plant
The site of a new £10billion power plant in Britain has been confirmed, creating up to 21,000 jobs.
A deal to secure the land needed was completed to pave the way for Europe’s biggest new nuclear project.
Venture group Nugen paid an undisclosed sum for the site at Moorside, near Sellafield in Cumbria.
It will see three nuclear reactors constructed on the land which was owned by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA).
The sale follows months of tests to ensure the area is suitable.
The three Westinghouse reactors planned will have a combined output of 3.4 gigawatts, almost seven per cent of the UK’s total electricity needs.
Each of the reactors will take about four years to build, and a small town of 4,000 new homes will be needed for the huge workforce.
It will have its own railway station, health centres and local amenities, with a transport infrastructure to take pressure off local roads.
Much of the material required will be carried to the site by sea.
The new workers’ town will feature sustainable homes, remaining in place after the development is completed to provide social housing, a key need in Cumbria.
Energy Minister Andrea Leadsom said: “Backing the next generation of nuclear projects is a key part of our long-term plan to power the economy with clean, secure energy and keep bills as low as possible for hard working families and businesses.”
Copeland MP Jamie Reed also welcomed the move, saying: “We have lobbied long and hard for new nuclear build to complement the array of world-class nuclear skills we already have here.”
The development is expected to generate up to 21,000 jobs during its lifetime.
Early building work will start in 2017 with a target date of 2024 for the first of three reactors starting to produce power. The other two would follow in 2025 and 2026.
Peak employment will be during the key construction phase in 2022-2024, when about 6,000 people will be involved. During operation, Moorside will directly employ more than 1,000 people.
Developers are set to build a new railway station at Mirehouse, running into the construction site.
A marine off-loading dock for materials brought in by sea is also possible.
Sequencing centres for lorries will aim to keep heavy vehicles off the nearby A595 at peak times.
Nugen chief executive Tom Samson said: “This is great news for the North West and particularly for West Cumbria, the UK’s nuclear heartland.
“We are delighted to be taking forward Moorside, a massive development which will supply some seven per cent of the UK’s future electricity.”
John Clarke, CEO of the NDA, said: “The completion of the land sale supports the initiative to have West Cumbria recognised as a centre of nuclear excellence, building on over six decades of nuclear expertise in the area, whilst delivering excellent value for money for the taxpayer and the national economy.”
Some question marks remain about how the project will be funded.
The European Commission is currently investigating whether government support for the planned new £16 billion Hinkley Point nuclear plant in Somerset breaches EU rules.
The government sees a new generation of nuclear plants as key to our future energy needs.
But anti-nuclear campaigners warned the new project would make the area a terrorist target.
Radiation Free Lakeland’s Marianne Birkby said the land next to Sellafield was originally designated as a ‘buffer zone’ to prevent further development.
She said: “The land acquired was bought out of the public purse as a buffer zone around Sellafield to ensure that there would be no new hazardous development or population increase.
“Protections have been ditched to accommodate the nuclear industry and our nuclear-obsessed government who plan to double the terrorist target of with nuclear sprawl on green fields adjacent to a flood plain.
“The only protections now are for the nuclear industry at the expense of Cumbria and the wider environment. What other industry would be allowed to operate with nominal public liability in the event of contamination accident?”
Torness Power Station. Image: EDF
One of the reactors at EDF Energy’s nuclear power station in East Lothian, east of Edinburgh, is out of service for maintenance works.
The £30 million refurbishment of one of the two reactors at Torness power station started last week.
It is expected to last nine weeks and the works include inspections and the installation of new equipment at the plant.
More than 500 workers will also change two gas circulators which help cool the reactor and replace blades on the turbine which turns steam into low carbon electricity.
The maintenance of each reactor takes place every three years and is planned in advance with National Grid to ensure there is no impact on the country’s electricity supply, stated EDF.
Station Director, Paul Winkle said: “This inspection, maintenance and investment programme has been carefully planned over the last two years and will enable us to continue safely generating low carbon electricity at Torness for many years to come.
Torness power station started operations in 1989 and generates enough electricity to power two million homes.
The company claims it has produced enough low carbon electricity to save the equivalent of 140 million tonnes of emissions during its 27 years of operation.
Source: Energy Live News
Leaders from thirty-nine international nuclear societies, including the Nuclear Institute NI, gathered in Nice, France, to sign the Nuclear for Climate Declaration and pledge their commitment to continue the fight against climate change.
The signed declaration, stating that “We the undersigned proudly believe that nuclear energy is a key part of the solution in the fight against climate change”, will be presented to the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris in December 2015.
Signing on behalf of the UK Nuclear Industry, Rear Admiral Tim Chittenden, President of the Nuclear Institute, said the declaration would be an important milestone in facing up to the causes of global climate change.
“Established scientific opinion around the world is virtually unanimous that human activity is leading to global climate change and that the uncontrolled release of greenhouse gasses, principally carbon dioxide, from power generation is a significant contributor,” he began.
“If the threat from global warming is to be mitigated before irreversible, and potentially catastrophic, climate change has taken place,” RAdm Chittenden continued, “the Nuclear Institute, representing professionals in the UK nuclear sector, strongly believes that nuclear power, alongside other low carbon and renewable energy sources, will have an essential role to play in the process. For this reason we are proud to stand alongside many other scientific and professional nuclear organisations to affirm our belief that nuclear energy is a key part of the solution in the fight against climate change.”
The declaration is a major component of the “Nuclear for Climate” global initiative- a grassroots initiative launched in the summer of 2014 by nuclear engineers and scientists to achieve recognition of nuclear as a low-carbon energy that is part of the solution to fight climate change.
The initiative was initially launched through the French Nuclear Society, the European Nuclear Society, and the American Nuclear Society, but on Monday “Nuclear for Climate” invited the presidents and representatives of leading nuclear industry organizations to join the initiative and to lend their voices to the call for change.
The signing took place during the International Congress on Advances in nuclear Power Plants (ICAPP) held in Nice, France, with 39 nuclear societies, representing 50,000 scientists from 36 countries across all five continents endorsing the declaration.
Scientists and representatives from both OECD (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development) and IPCC (International Panel on Climate Change) have stressed that each country needs access to the widest possible portfolio of low-carbon technologies available, including nuclear energy, in order to reduce CO2 emissions and meet other energy goals.
Nuclear for Climate have called for the new UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) Protocols to recognize nuclear energy as a low-carbon energy option, and to include it in its climate funding mechanisms, as is the case for all other low-carbon energy sources.
You can read a full copy of the declaration here.
Source: Nuclear Matters
Image: EDF Energy, Heysham 1 nuclear power station.
EDF Energy has awarded a contract for its nuclear power stations in the UK.
Engineering firm Jacobs will provide project management resources to EDF’s eight nuclear power stations and two technical centres in the UK.
Company officials did not disclose the contract value but noted it is for five years with optional two-year extensions.
The eight power stations have a combined capacity of almost 8.8 million KW.
Jacobs Group Vice President Bob Duff said: “We are delighted to continue supporting EDF Energy on this major programme of nuclear power investment in the UK.
“We look forward to contributing significant expertise, local knowledge and global resource to help deliver safe, robust solutions across these important assets.”
Source: Energy Live News
Sellafield Ltd is to support a new world-class training facility, the National College for Nuclear (NCfN), to make Cumbria the UK’s centre for nuclear excellence.
The company, along with EDF Energy, is set to invest in the Government’s new National College for Nuclear, allowing staff and subject matter experts to combine their enthusiasm and expertise to make learning in the college relevant and realistic.
As part of Sellafield Ltd’s commitment to investing in the skills and development of the next generation of nuclear workers, representatives from the company will deliver specialist vocational training to the West Cumbrian branch of the college to help meet the present and future skills needs of the UK’s nuclear industry.
Funding for two nuclear hubs in West Cumbria and Somerset will come from a grant committed by the Government.
Business Minister Matthew Hancock said: “It’s expected the nuclear industry will need 30,000 new employees over the next decade – and the Nuclear College will equip young people with the skills they need.
“Creating jobs and opportunities for local people is front and centre of our long term economic plan to secure a brighter future for Britain.”
Sellafield Ltd Human Resources Director, Colin Reed, is the NCfN shadow board Chair. He said: “Sellafield Ltd is delighted to be part of the National College for Nuclear. The NDA and Sellafield Ltd are making substantial investments to grow the economy and develop West Cumbria as a global centre of nuclear excellence.
“The college will provide a source of qualification and curriculum development to feed the skills pipelines for the nuclear sector and its supply chain.”
Sellafield Ltd will work with local educational providers such as Lakes College and the University of Cumbria to develop the college’s qualifications and curriculum.
Colin said: “The focus will be on higher level vocational skills development and education in core engineering disciplines that will be most relevant for the nuclear industry and its supply chain.”
One of Sellafield Ltd’s most important investments is in the skills and development of the next generation of nuclear professionals; the company is dedicated to supporting local facilities such as the NCfN which provide education and training opportunities that will help meet the future skills requirement of the nuclear sector.
Dave Swindle, Chairman of Nuclear Management Partners (NMP): “This is fantastic news. Skills and training are major factors in realising West Cumbria’s potential to be the UK’s centre for nuclear excellence.
“The college will be a significant addition to the existing training facilities, brought about by investment from organisations like NMP, Sellafield Ltd and the NDA, to develop the next generation of nuclear experts.”
Source: Nuclear Matters