A trades union has urged the UK government to ensure that small modular reactors (SMR) are built in Britain as part of a “just” transition to net zero.
Unite made the call late last month, following the signing of a union recognition deal with Rolls-Royce SMR, which specialises in this nuclear energy technology.
The union’s call follows prime minister Rishi Sunak’s speech, where he announced a number of changes to net zero policy, but also that the government intends to shortlist companies that build a new generation of SMRs.
Alongside UK-based Rolls-Royce SMR, other bidders for the £20bn contracts include companies based in the Unites States, and Japan.
Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said:“The government has put the contracts to build SMRs out to international tender. This is despite the fact that UK-based Rolls-Royce SMR and its workforce are the world leaders in the technology.
“Not awarding this contract to Rolls-Royce SMR as quickly as possible would be a complete betrayal of UK manufacturing, and the exact opposite of a just transition. Not only would it endanger the potential to create thousands of decent skilled UK jobs, but it would also be a colossal act of economic self-harm.
“SMRs are pivotal to phasing out carbon-based energy sources and Rolls-Royce SMR is firmly placed to become a global exporter of this key technology. Frankly, it would be madness if the government gave this contract to a US or Japanese company.”
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