Nuclear Energy
Nuclear Energy

I know the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament has raised concerns about the Bill and I absolutely agree we must rediscover our leadership in this country on multilateral disarmament.

However, I also believe that new nuclear energy has an important supporting role to play in the energy mix, alongside the decisive shift to renewables that we need, both to deliver the climate transition and ensure our energy security.  Nuclear will be a necessary baseload for our transition to clean energy.

As the Climate Change Committee has set out, we will need all the low carbon power sources at our disposal to deliver the rapid and fair transition required to reach net zero. In the face of a threat on the scale of the climate emergency, I do not believe we can afford to reject viable zero carbon sources of power.

I therefore supported the Nuclear Energy (Financing) Bill. I nevertheless appreciate the concerns that people have at the potential costs to consumers from the Regulated Asset Base (RAB) funding model put forward in the Bill. I believe it is important for the Bill to guarantee fairness for bill payers, including by ensuring protection for consumers against any potential cost overruns, as well as protecting the poorest households.

I supported an amendment to the Bill that would have provided financial protection for households if the cost or timescale of a nuclear project funded under the RAB model increased significantly. I also supported an amendment that would require the Government to report to Parliament on the up-front and overall expected cost of a nuclear project, details of any agreement reached on terms for the sale of electricity onto the National Grid and how decommissioning costs will be met, including in the event of the nuclear company becoming insolvent. Unfortunately, the Government defeated these amendments.

More widely, when it comes to protecting bill payers, I support several measures, including scrapping VAT on energy bills for one year and a national mission to retrofit housing, which will lower bills by far more than any costs resulting from RAB funding of new nuclear. On renewables meanwhile, I believe that they will play the dominant role in our energy mix in the future, and therefore agree that we must provide greater support for them. That is why the Labour Party has a commitment to invest £28 billion in the climate transition every year of the next decade.

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