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UK-France declaration on energy

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Declaration on energy agreed at UK-France Summit along with agreements on security and defence and Syria.

Franco-British declaration on energy

1. France and the United Kingdom pledge to respond to present and future energy challenges in a responsible manner. They share the same goals: transition to a low-carbon energy mix, delivering secure energy at a reasonable cost, strengthening industrial competitiveness, and securing the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in line with agreed targets, within the framework of an EU energy policy based on technology neutrality and which respects the right of each member state to determine its own fuel mix. The full completion of the single energy market would make an important contribution to this, in particular by encouraging cross border trading.

2. In order to achieve these goals, France and the United Kingdom believe that it is necessary to develop nuclear energy alongside renewable energy and other low carbon energy technologies. Drawing on the excellent work done over several years, we have decided to set our cooperation in the framework of a comprehensive partnership, which is at both institutional and industrial levels, and creates economic activity and jobs in both countries.

3. In the civil nuclear energy field, the partnership reflects a shared determination to harness and manage nuclear energy in the safest and most effective and secure manner, covering the entire industrial system and encouraging the emergence of a Franco-British industry that is highly competitive across the whole supply chain at the international level. In particular, EDF plans to develop four new EPR nuclear reactors in the UK and the recent interim design acceptance of Areva’s EPR reactor by the British regulatory is an important step forward in achieving this goal.

4. France and the United Kingdom welcome the new agreements and arrangements concluded today to develop nuclear energy in the areas of:

a) Education and training, to respond more effectively together to the growing demand for a qualified workforce and to develop expertise :
• EDF Energy/Bridgewater College: to launch the “World Class Training Centre” initiative.
• Institut International de l’Energie Nucleaire (I2EN)/National Skills Academy for Nuclear (NSAN): to support and promote effective nuclear training and education.

b) Research and development, both for the current fleet and for the development of fourth-generation reactors:
• Commissariat a l’Energie Atomique et aux Energies Alternatives (CEA)/ National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL): to develop joint position statements and to prepare common research programmes.
• CEA/AMEC and CEA/Rolls-Royce: on development of the 4th generation reactor prototype ASTRID.

c) The security of nuclear power plants: signature of a new framework covering the cooperation between the two governments.

5. Our partnership aims to cover the widest range of industrial activities. We welcome industrial cooperation on existing reactors in France, the strategic partnership led by EDF for new EPR projects in the UK and the new commercial agreements concluded today:
• EDF Energy/AREVA: the commitment to finalise key contract for the first new nuclear power station in the UK (Hinkley Point C) in time for the project’s final investment decision before the end of 2012.
• AREVA/Rolls-Royce: following the Cooperation Agreement they signed in March 2011, AREVA and Rolls-Royce agree on strengthening their cooperation for the UK market, covering nuclear new build and fuel cycle, through which Rolls-Royce will provide significant manufacturing and other engineering services for EPR projects. They also confirm the enhancement of greater cooperation on the international scene.
• EDF Energy/Kier - BAM Nuttall: the first major construction contract for Hinkley Point C.
• Assystem/Atkins to enlarge the joint engineering company Nuclear Atkins Assystem Alliance (“n.triple.a”) to include EDF’s EPR projects in the UK.

Following the EDF Energy/AREVA contract for manufacturing of forgings for Hinkley Point C EPR, signed in July 2011, and the contract for Hinkley Point C design and safety studies signed in December 2011, these new agreements will significantly strengthen the Franco British partnership.

6. Discussions will also be stepped up on back-end fuel cycle issues relating to the safe and sustainable management of nuclear materials and radioactive waste, particularly our respective plans for disposing of radioactive waste. In this context, both countries welcome the continuing development of the UK’s strategy for managing its plutonium stocks.

7. Nuclear safety is an absolute priority for both our countries. Constantly improving safety levels lies at the centre of cooperation between our independent national authorities. The sharing of information and feedback will be further strengthened.

8. The Fukushima accident has reinforced France and the UK’s determination to promote the highest safety levels throughout the world, particularly for new reactors, in line with the work of WENRA (Western European Nuclear Regulators’ Association).  In order to learn every lesson from the accident, as our two countries are doing, safety assessments on the basis of common specifications, such as those carried out by EU Member States, must be extended worldwide in accordance with the Action Plan on Nuclear Safety adopted by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).  We call on the IAEA to present a full report on this subject by its next General Conference.  Our two countries will also coordinate ahead of the Review Meeting of the international Convention on Nuclear Safety, organized for 2012 under the aegis of the IAEA.

9. France and the UK welcome the results of the first phase of the stress-tests performed by their national nuclear regulatory authorities, which will ensure that we apply the lessons learned from Fukushima accident to nuclear installations in both countries. The two reports show the high level of safety of the French and British nuclear facilities, reached thanks to the philosophy of continuous safety improvement implemented by the regulatory authorities.

10. Nuclear safety is, first and foremost, the responsibility of each operator and each state. It must also benefit from broadened international cooperation. France and the UK believe that one of the main lessons of the Fukushima accident is the need to prepare for emergencies at nuclear power plants, whatever the cause, including by having off-site emergency units. One operator’s resources must, as far as possible, be capable of supporting another operator in the event of a serious incident. This support needs to be organized as effectively as possible to mobilize these resources in the event of a crisis, by clearly defining the role of all the parties concerned (nuclear operators, states and competent authorities). France and the UK have therefore decided to work together under a new joint framework to enhance our own capabilities and strengthen our bilateral coordination on nuclear emergency response, based in particular on a genuine sharing of intervention capabilities at operator level.

11. France and the UK are in favour of strengthening the international capability to react to nuclear emergencies. We will work with the IAEA to determine how best to do so, drawing on lessons and capabilities emerging from the joint nuclear emergency response framework that we are creating together. We call on all countries which use civilian nuclear energy for electricity production - beginning with the European Union member states - to join us in this effort by strengthening their emergency response capabilities where necessary, drawing on the support of the IAEA and other international partners.

12. The strengthening of crisis management capabilities would be aided by building better links between centres for training and the development of skills to create an international network. The UK and France will work with the IAEA and other partners to create shared frames of reference for training, joint training networks and enhanced expert exchange programmes between states.
  
13. In order for the IAEA Action Plan on Nuclear Safety to be fully implemented, we also call on all countries which use civilian nuclear energy to have independent safety authorities and be subject to peer review.

14. France and the UK are both committed to upholding the most effective standards of nuclear security. In this regard, we are increasing our bilateral cooperation. We welcome the signature of the framework on civil nuclear security which will improve our sharing of experience and best practice. At the European level, France and the UK support the work undertaken by the EU Council ad hoc Group on Nuclear Security, established in July 2011 to complement the safety track exercise. Finally, France and the UK have recently hosted IAEA International Physical Protection Advisory Service (IPPAS) peer review missions, which underlines both countries’ commitment to upholding effective standards of nuclear security at home. We call on other countries to make full use of IPPAS reviews and other assistance that IAEA has to offer.

15. France and the UK announce the creation of the Franco-British high-level group on nuclear energy, N12, gathering the industry and all the other main actors. N12 will be a place for sharing and exchanging views on issues of nuclear policy, economics, the back-end fuel cycle, the safe and sustainable management of nuclear materials and radioactive waste, aimed at fostering a common Franco-British approach to nuclear issues. N12 will participate in the development of our joint framework on nuclear emergency response.

16. Finally, France and the UK welcome the inaugural informal ministerial meeting of nuclear power-interested European countries held in Paris on 10 February this year. The meeting allowed 16 European countries to confirm the important role of nuclear in the EU low-carbon energy mix, both currently and in the future.

17. France and the UK will continue to develop renewable energy. This energy complements nuclear energy and helps to achieve the goals defined at European Union level and ultimately enable the economy to be decarbonised. It will contribute to our two countries’ innovation and industrial competitiveness.

18. We welcome the development in both countries of ambitious offshore wind energy programmes. In particular, France has launched a first tender for the installation of      3 GW offshore wind power off its North-West coast. 

19. We are determined to promote the potential of marine energies. We welcome the plan for a tidal turbine farm off Alderney-Aurigny in the Channel Islands. The commercial agreements signed today between Alderney Renewable Energy (ARE) / DCNS and ARE / Transmission Capital / Reseau de Transport d’Electricite are major steps towards the realization of a significant new renewable energy project which could rank among the largest tidal stream energy deployments worldwide. We believe this project could encourage the emergence of industrial cooperation between France and the UK, while opening up new international prospects.

20. We also extend our cooperation to the wave energy sector. We welcome the recently established joint-venture between Alstom and SSE Renewables, which will seek to develop one of the world’s largest wave farms off the Scottish coast.

21. Our comprehensive partnership to develop nuclear and renewable energy also depends on France and the UK’s cooperation on electricity transportation and regulation.

22. We acknowledge the importance of developing new electricity interconnectors between our two countries in order to strengthen further the linking of our grids, improve the security of our energy supplies and facilitate the integration of intermittent energy sources. We encourage further studies to be undertaken on the interconnector projects currently under consideration, namely the IFA2 led by the Reseau de Transport d’Electricite and the National Grid, FABLink (France-Alderney-Britain) led by Alderney Renewable Energy and Transmission Capital, and ElecLink led by Star Capital and Eurotunnel.

23. Our cooperation in grid technology is also strengthening. We welcome the expansion of Alstom’s global centre for research and development on offshore substations and high voltage direct current, based in Stafford.

24. At the regional level, France and the UK are actively participating in the North Seas Countries’ Offshore Grid Initiative, which brings together ten European countries and is concerned with identifying the costs and benefits of a more integrated offshore grid, identifying and resolving regulatory barriers and streamlining authorisation procedures, with a view to supporting the development of offshore renewable energy in an integrated European market. We will seek to ensure that, by the end of 2012, there is a robust assessment of such a grid’s potential cost-effectiveness.