A key figure behind the construction of Hinkley Point C has warned that a failure to overcome difficulties moving nuclear materials across borders post-Brexit is “unthinkable”.
EDF Energy nuclear new build managing director Humphrey Cadoux-Hudson said leaving the European Union could have huge repercussions for the UK if not handled correctly.
The warning, made at a Nuclear Industry Association (NIA) conference in London yesterday, comes just days after NIA chief executive Tom Greatrex said leaving standards and research body Euratom as part of Brexit could leave “a damaging cliff-edge” for nuclear firms. It has been argued that import of critical materials could be harder if the UK leaves Euratom.
Cadoux-Hudson said yesterday: “We’ve had a lot of discussions with the government at all levels about Brexit, which will impact on us, on existing nuclear plants and on hospitals – it is such a big, wide impact on the UK that it’s unthinkable that the government does not solve the problems.
He added: “We are confident it will solve them.”
Cadoux-Hudson described the government’s bid to get a Nuclear Safeguards Bill approved in the next 12 months as a “first step” to ensuring materials can cross borders post-Brexit.
Prime minister Theresa May’s minority government said in the Queen’s Speech earlier this month that the Bill would establish a UK nuclear safeguards regime post-Brexit.
The government said such safeguards – reporting and verification arrangements to ensure that civil nuclear material is not diverted from its intended use – were “essential for a responsible nuclear state”.
Cadoux-Hudson said: “There will doubtless be more challenges ahead when the UK leaves the EU. The nuclear industry will be looking in particular for clarity on future arrangements to cover the movement of nuclear materials … the introduction of a nuclear safeguard scheme in the Queen’s Speech was a welcome first step and we look forward to continuing engagement with the government.”