BNFL has announced a loss of £210 million for the year ended 31 March 2001, compared with a £74 million profit the previous year.

However, the company said the outlook is promising. “We are operating at a time when the prospects for a renaissance in nuclear power are brighter than for many years,” said chairman Hugh Collum. “The announcement of a UK energy review is both timely and an excellent opportunity for the industry to put its case across. It is imperative that in the UK we have a balanced energy policy that takes account of the role that nuclear energy can and must play. If the full potential of the changes in favour of nuclear energy is realised we will be well positioned to provide the technology, services and equipment needed.” BNFL put the poor operating and financial performance down to major losses in Magnox generation. In particular, Wylfa was off line for most of the year because of engineering work. This lowered BNFL’s annual capacity by about 40%.

The company’s spent fuel and engineering business group also produced a significantly worse financial performance in comparison to the previous record output year. The main drivers were low throughputs in the Thorp and Magnox reprocessing plants – caused by technical difficulties in the downstream waste plants. Turnover at £549 million was £50 million down on the previous year. All plants are now back in operation.

In contrast, the financial performance of the fuel manufacture and reactor services business group showed continued progress. Following the acquisition of the nuclear businesses of ABB, completed in April 2000, turnover rose from £730 million last year to £1048 million in 2000/01.

BNFL claims there has been significant progress in rebuilding customer confidence, mainly due to: •New commitments for the Sellafield MOX Plant mean it is already at the break-even point.

•Fuel transport from Europe has re-started.

•Clean-up contracts in the USA have been stabilised.

Hugh Collum commented: “With the longer term picture for the global nuclear industry brightening, the future of the business is encouraging. In the short term, as we build on more robust foundations we must continue to improve our operating performance and agree the way forward.” He added: “We look forward to an early decision on the Sellafield MOX Plant, which is critical to our future.”