Speech

NDA Estate Supply Chain Event 2013

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

Speech by Baroness Verma to the NDA Estate Supply Chain Event 2013.

Introduction

It gives me great pleasure to join John Clarke in welcoming you all to this event in Manchester. As the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State within the Department of Energy and Climate Change I have formal responsibility for the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority and, alongside my other government colleagues, recognise the substantial challenge that we have set John and his team, not to mention the various Site Licence Companies and numerous companies within the supply chain.

New nuclear opportunities

This conference takes place at a critical time for nuclear power in the UK. We are on the cusp of a new build renaissance.

I’m sure you will have seen the press coverage announcing that the government and EDF Group have reached commercial agreement on the key terms of a proposed investment contract for the Hinkley Point C nuclear power station in Somerset. This is an enormous step forward towards the construction of the first new nuclear power station in the UK in a generation.

It will begin the process of replacing the existing fleet of nuclear stations, most of which are due to close by the early 2020s.

And the opportunities this brings are huge. Building Hinkley Point C will have significant benefits for the UK economy. For example, UK companies could benefit from getting up to 57% of the work.

And EDF have estimated that 25,000 jobs will be created during construction, with 5,600 people employed on site at peak of construction, and 900 permanent jobs over 60 years of expected operation.

Decommissioning opportunities

Key to the successful delivery of the new nuclear fleet will be a strong domestic workforce and supply chain.

However, you know as well as I, that the majority of this industry is currently and rightly occupied with the vital work of existing power generation and decommissioning which make a significant contribution to the economy today.

It is within these parts of the nuclear sector and the wider construction industry that we have developed a strong and globally respected workforce– and this will also provide the foundations on which the new nuclear programme can prosper.

Earlier this year the government published our Nuclear Industrial Strategy which, with its many supporting documents, covers our commitment and vision for all elements of the nuclear sector.

The Strategy sets out a number of goals and actions that will support the supply chain: from an increased focus on fundamental R&D in our universities and the National Nuclear Laboratory; to ensuring that we can develop and maintain the necessary skills for both the home market and exporting our knowledge to the rest of the world.

The United Kingdom has a proud and long history as one of the early nuclear pioneers. We have led the world in early reactor design, and operation, many of which set world records for their safety and operation.

Later today I have the pleasure of visiting the Springfields site to see the valuable work that Westinghouse do supplying nuclear fuel to meet the existing EDF needs whilst also discharging the legacy mission for the NDA.

When we consider that £1.6bn is spent annually on the NDA Estate it presents us with a unique and challenging opportunity for the supply chain.

That’s why I am committed to supporting events such as this and doing all I can to enable the supply to be successful. Not just for the obvious regional and national benefit that this level of expenditure brings to jobs, education and growth but also to help sell UK businesses abroad, as the nuclear sector is a global business.

International

I am pleased that, for the first time, this year’s NDA Suppliers Day has an international perspective. I strongly believe that it is vitally important for countries to be collaboratively addressing and sharing experiences in decommissioning and waste management so the public are reassured that the legacy issues of nuclear are being dealt with.

Through UKTI, we have invited a number of important overseas representatives from countries that either have an existing waste management or decommissioning programme or are about to start one.

I’m delighted to welcome our overseas delegates to today’s event and hope they have an interesting and productive time in the UK. Your presence here in Manchester provides opportunities for us to develop new partnerships and forge stronger links with overseas markets.

In the coming years the kinds of services and equipment you all provide will see significant global growth:

  • 69 reactors are under construction with a further 272 proposed. The World Nuclear Association predicts about $1.5 trillion of potential investment in New Nuclear Build by 2025, across circa 30 countries.
  • By 2030 the International Atomic Energy Authority estimates that 145 reactors will have been decommissioned at a cost of £250bn with the total liability for reactors, fuel cycle facilities and research activities over the next 50 years estimated at approximately $1000 billion.

I want to see the UK take advantage of this and for our nuclear industry to become a global leader and truly compete in the global race for jobs and growth.

Our UK nuclear industry can provide a significant contribution to overseas civil nuclear programmes, particularly in decommissioning and waste management where, over many years, our companies have developed an extensive array of specialist expertise and technology.

In this afternoon’s international seminar, hosted by UKTI, you will be able to hear from some of our overseas delegates on developments in their countries to help you understand how to access that global market.

I very much encourage, and hope, you take advantage of this opportunity.

SMEs

As well as my other Ministerial duties I am also the DECC Small and Medium Enterprise Minister. My government is committed to increasing the value of work that is won by this vital community which makes up a substantial element of the UK economy but has not been as successful as it could be in winning work with us.

My Department has set itself the target of awarding 19% of our spend to SME’s by the end of the current Parliament. The NDA accounts for a substantial proportion of our expenditure which is why I am so pleased that they have embraced this challenge so positively and aggressively.

John has highlighted a number of actions that are beginning to make a difference, it’s worth stressing at this point that the target is not about counting the numbers better but about the SME community and others winning more work and doing so on merit, not because of any target that I or others may have set.

Graduate opportunities

In drawing my speech to a conclusion I would just like to highlight two areas of particular note.

As some of you may be aware this years nuclear graduates have been tasked to set up and run a successful SME business alongside their other commitments.

As an entrepreneur before I entered government I really appreciate the benefit this experience will give our nuclear leaders of the future. I wish them well in their endeavours; learning by doing is a wonderful opportunity.

SME Best Practice Guidance

Secondly, last year the NDA set up a National SME Steering group structure with the aim of giving SME’s from across the UK more influence.

Today I am delighted to announce the publication of the “Better Practise Innovation for SMEs” guidance which is a product of hard work by SMEs supported by Tier 2’s and designed to help us all understand how successful innovation can deliver material benefits to all.

I commend this guide to you all and I am pleased that later today I will be able to meet up with the other SME Regional Groups along with colleagues from across the three governments to explore further opportunities to improve our collective performance and remove further barriers to entry.

Conclusion

Barriers to entry was one of the reason why a single NDA Estate event was first conceived. Three years ago the first event in Bolton had 300 attendees, today I’m advised there are 1200 of us in the room, with clients representing regional, national and international opportunities and inspiring exhibitors which I’m sure will help remind ourselves how strong the Supply Chain really is.

Building on the UK’s proud heritage as a nuclear pioneer, this is a clear indication of the renaissance of the industry, and absolutely integral to this is will be a strong domestic supply chain. This is clearly a sector with a long, bright and prosperous future ahead of it. By working together, we can take advantage of the opportunities for the sector both locally at home, and internationally in the global race for jobs and growth.

Please enjoy the day and I trust that you will consider the time that you spend away from your business has been worthwhile and provided you with opportunities to network, connect and build new contacts.

Thank you.