Nuclear power’s chain reaction for England’s Northwest

Business Secretary Lord Mandelson and Chancellor Alistair Darling have today outlined a package of announcements outlining how the Northwest is helping British businesses seize the opportunities that civil nuclear power represents for the UK economy.

England’s Northwest has been chosen as a Low Carbon Economic Area for Nuclear (LCEA), based on the region’s unique assets and capabilities within the field of nuclear energy.

As part of the UK’s Low Carbon Industrial Strategy, which was launched in July 2009, the LCEA will be led by the Northwest Regional Development Agency (NWDA) to bring together knowledge, skills and investment within the sector, delivering benefits for the economy.

Working in partnership with Sheffield University, The University of Manchester’s Dalton Nuclear Institute will play a significant role in the Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) in South Yorkshire. Manchester will provide research capability to innovate, demonstrate and disseminate manufacturing technology for components for nuclear power generation and will help supply chain companies compete in the civil nuclear sector.

The package will also include an upgrade of the nuclear research laboratories at the University of Manchester’s Dalton Nuclear Institute. Up to £8 million will be invested in the facility to directly support the activity of the Nuclear AMRC and ensure the UK civil nuclear industry is able to develop world leading manufacturing techniques and products.

There will also be support for the Dalton Cumbria Educational Facility for nuclear research, higher learning and continual professional development.

The NWDA will provide the coordinating function for England’s Regional Development Agencies (RDA), by encouraging best practice and providing the framework for the development of innovation and skills within the sector. The NWDA will also lead the Manufacturing Advisory Service (MAS) for nuclear, offering support and advice to RDAs and UK manufacturers.

England’s Northwest is a world pioneer of nuclear energy and home to one of the world’s largest concentrations of nuclear facilities and expertise. Over 25,000 skilled professionals are employed in 300 companies across the region, resulting in a combined turnover of approximately £3 billion each year.

Robert Hough, Chairman, NWDA said:

“Today’s announcement demonstrates that England’s Northwest has a real commitment to a low carbon future, especially within the nuclear industry. There is an exceptional business opportunity for the region, including an increase in job opportunities and skills, leading to innovation and economic growth.

“Working alongside our colleagues at Manchester University, Yorkshire Forward, and the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre in Sheffield, the Low Carbon Economic Area agreement for Nuclear will ensure the Northwest can provide regional and national leadership within the sector, engaging directly with businesses to maximise opportunities.”

Lord Mandelson, Business Secretary 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.”

Chancellor, Alistair Darling MP said:

“It is essential that the UK economy continues to build upon its strengths in the high tech and knowledge based industries so that as we come out of the recession these industries drive forward sustainable growth within the UK and our ability to compete in global markets.”

Business Minister Lord Drayson said:

“Low Carbon Economic Areas will help us focus investment, skills and infrastructure regionally to boost the UK’s national capacity. This nuclear low carbon economic area will combine the advantages of nuclear infrastructure in the North West and advanced manufacturing in Yorkshire, the advanced manufacturing base in the region and the excellent skills and research bases in Manchester and Sheffield universities. By drawing together our activity regionally we can accelerate our capability nationally.”

Professor Alan Gilbert, President and Vice Chancellor, The University of Manchester said:

“The University of Manchester fully supports the drive towards a low carbon future and is committed to mobilising its leading nuclear research capability through the Dalton Nuclear Institute to make a substantial contribution to the LCEA agenda through the Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre.”