As a young civil engineer in the late 1970s I joined the teams at Knutsford, Cheshire, designing the last of the AGR power stations (Heysham II & Torness) and the only PWR (Sizewell). At the time there were several thousand people throughout the UK involved in these projects.
Due to the 'nuclear moratorium' in the late 1980s, we were the last generation of engineers and designers to produce nuclear power plants in the UK.
The BBC's Wednesday night drama 'If. . . the lights go out' was set in 2010. We saw the character Mr O'Neill MP saying that we should consider reinvesting in the nuclear industry. But, along with my contemporaries, I will be retiring by then and all the experience gained over 30 years of UK nuclear development will be gone.
It is extremely optimistic to imagine that a single new nuclear plant could be built from scratch in less than 10 years, let alone the dozen that may be required to replace those currently being decommissioned.
A possible solution may be to allow the French, who have continuing expertise, to build plants in the UK. No doubt this would be tied in with French suppliers of plant and fuel. The only way to keep control of our own nuclear future is to start now.
Mike Moley (M), Sale, Cheshire, Fmmoley@aol. com