Prime minister Theresa May’s proposals for the government’s new industrial strategy includes a plan to increase UK competitiveness and skills in the nuclear industry.
The proposals for the strategy have been published today in a green paper.
The nuclear industry is one of five areas that could benefit from one of the new sector deals outlined in the strategy. These deals will involve the government stepping in to remove regulation and offer support in areas such as trade and investment in order to grow the targeted industry. The government said it will also look at new institutions to aid innovation and skills as part of the sector deals.
Nuclear Industry Association (NIA) chair Lord Hutton will lead the early work on the nuclear sector deal. In response to the green paper launching the industrial strategy proposals, the NIA said it saw ’considerable opportunity’ for supply chains in the sector. It added it believes the development of small modular reactor (SMR) technology could be an important part of ensuring the industry realises its potential.
“The nuclear sector has great potential to contribute to the UK economy. I look forward to working with the nuclear industry and the government to develop proposals for this sector as part of the new Industrial Strategy,” said Lord Hutton.
Other areas earmarked for the first sector deals include ultra-low emission vehicles.
The plans also include an Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, part of £4.7bn for research and development that can be used in areas such as smart energy technologies and robotics.
To back up the plan, the government has named 10 “strategic pillars” pulled from its existing industrial policies, one of which is infrastructure. The government says the UK must improve performance standards in digital, energy, transport, water and flood defence infrastructure. It also aims to better align central government infrastructure investment with local needs. Another pillar is called ”improving procurement”. It will use the procurement process to increase innovation. “Developing skills” is another of the pillars. Its aim is to boost STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) and technical education.
“The Modern Industrial Strategy will back Britain for the long term: creating the conditions where successful businesses can emerge and grow, and backing them to invest in the long-term future of our country,” said May.
“It will be underpinned by a new approach to government, not just stepping back but stepping up to a new, active role that backs business and ensures more people in all corners of the country share in the benefits of its success.”
Commenting on the strategy Civil Engineering Contractors Association head of external affairs Marie-Claude Hemming said: “We welcome the government’s recognition that infrastructure is key to all industries, and that the UK needs to upgrade its standards of performance on digital, energy, transport, water and flood defences.
“The government has recognised that it has a role to play in enabling industries to modernise, and at the same time work with us to remove barriers to progress. Crucial to this will be ensuring the right programmes are in place to deliver the skills that the infrastructure sector requires to drive forward innovation, and reform procurement.”
In response to the industrial strategy, ICE director general Nick Baveystock said he was pleased the strategy aligned with the ICE’s National Needs Assessment.
“The UK’s population will increase to £75million, energy capacity will be further squeezed and we will face greater threats from water scarcity and flooding,” he said. “Technology and infrastructure will enable us to meet these challenges and ensure we grow communities, jobs and wealth across the entire nation. It is important that we better understand the demands on our infrastructure services and the technologies that will enable us to manage our networks and assets more efficiently and effectively in the future.”
Atkins chief executive Nick Roberts, who is also a member of the ICE’s Brexit infrastructure leadership group said the future of the UK’s place in the global marketplace depended on it being ‘bold, relevant, innovative and competitive’.
“The UK is home to a cluster of world leading professional expertise in the financing, design, delivery and operation of high performing infrastructure. We need to nurture this cluster and quickly embrace and capitalise on advancements in technology to meet our own needs and grow a sector which can be a major contributor to our future export success,” he said.