UK Business Secretary Lord Mandelson today provided a major boost for the UK's civil nuclear industry with a trio of announcements including £25 million in funding for a new research centre.
Speaking at the University of Sheffield Lord Mandelson said that a new Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (NAMRC) is to be based in South Yorkshire alongside the existing Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre. The new facility will be led by the University of Sheffield with Rolls-Royce as the lead industrial partner.
He also revealed that Rolls-Royce's intention is in principle to base its civil nuclear factory in South Yorkshire. This factory is part of an investment programme announced in July 2009, which included £45m of investment from the Government.
Finally, Mandelson announced a Nuclear Low Carbon Economic Area (LCEA) for both Yorkshire and the Northwest. UK companies have the potential to provide up to 70% of the work on construction of components for new nuclear power plants, and the LCEA will support the development of UK capability to win this business.
The new £25 million Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (NAMRC) led by the University of Sheffield with Rolls-Royce will be based at the Advanced Manufacturing Park. Funding for the project comprises £15million from the Department of Business, Industry and Skills and £10m from the regional development agency, Yorkshire Forward.
It is the intention of Rolls-Royce that the Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre will be a centre of excellence for research and development of advanced manufacturing technologies that will deliver step change, lower cost, high-integrity components to the UK nuclear industry.
Speaking to assembled industrialists, regional dignitaries and journalists, Lord Mandelson said:
"We know that we have to make the transition to a low carbon future, and the Government is determined to ensure that British businesses get the support they need to seize the business opportunities that transition creates. The civil nuclear sector is one of the key low carbon industries where the UK has the potential for job creation, economic growth and engineering and manufacturing excellence. Today´s announcement is about investing in our future. A greener, smarter, more skilled, more balanced British economy."
Prospect national secretary at the union for nuclear professionals, Mike Graham welcomed the annoucement. He said: "This decision is important for UK manufacturing jobs and rebuilding the UK manufacturing base. We need proactive preparation for the programme of new nuclear build. The government's own low-carbon industrial strategy recognised that key to developing the UK nuclear supply chain will be the supply of a skilled workforce to manufacture, build, operate and maintain the new nuclear fleet."