Clean up empties before new party, warns nuclear union

Clean up empties before new party, warns nuclear union

Stringent government cuts and the forthcoming general election will derail the latest spending plans for cleaning up the UK’s nuclear legacy, nuclear union Prospect has told the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority.

Commenting on the NDA’s business plan for 2010-13, Prospect National Secretary David Luxton said: “The current Public Value Programme review by the Treasury of all clean-up projects poses a major threat to the ability of the NDA to meet its obligations under the 2004 Energy Act.

“The Treasury’s decisions will kick into action in 2011 – only one year into the NDA’s business plan period. But the legacy of early defence programmes and the first generation of nuclear power stations will not go away or reduce in risk without a clear, unequivocal commitment to long-term funding. Instead we face short-term expediency.

“Public acceptability is essential for nuclear new build to go ahead. But the public message to the nuclear industry will be: ‘If you can’t take away your empties we’re not going to let you have another party.’”

Prospect’s evidence to the NDA calls for a change to its ‘net funding’ model, which makes no allowances for unforeseen fluctuations in revenue, and has led to a destructive stop-start approach to clean-up within the industry to date, storing up longer-term costs. “The government should commit to funding all costs upfront, with commercial revenues returned to the Treasury,” says Prospect’s submission.

Prospect has sent leaflets opposing cuts in the decommissioning budget to MPs and peers. The Department of Energy and Climate Change spends about 60-65 per cent of its budget on nuclear decommissioning. Through the PVP cuts, the government wants savings of at least 20 per cent, leading to the potential loss of 4,000 jobs within three to four years.

“Reducing workforce numbers on the eve of a major expansion in an industry that already faces a skills challenge is madness,” said Luxton. “Those hardest hit will be technical, scientific and managerial staff, who do the key decommissioning work.”