Controversial plans to establish post-Brexit domestic nuclear power safeguards framework introduced to Parliament today
The government has today published its statutory plans to establish a domestic nuclear industry safeguards regime as the UK prepares to exit the EU-wide atomic sector body Euratom in 2019.
Introduced to Parliament today, the Nuclear Safeguards Bill sets out provisions to bolster the role of the UK's Office for Nuclear Regulation to take on additional safeguard inspection responsibilities for the nuclear power industry that are currently undertaken by Euratom.
Nuclear safeguards are processes which allow countries to demonstrate to the international community that civil nuclear material is used for peaceful purposes.
First announced in the Queen's Speech earlier this year, the Bill will deliver nuclear safeguards in line with existing Euratom standards, as well as exceeding those required by the wider international nuclear community, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial strategy (BEIS) said.
Following the UK public's vote to leave the EU, the government earlier this year confirmed its intention for Britain to also exit Euratom - the European Atomic Energy Community.
The move sparked widespread criticism from many within the nuclear industry, who warned it would require significant investment in replicating Euratom's work and could prove highly disruptive to the supply chains for radioactive materials across both the energy and medical sectors.
Many in the industry fear today's Bill will not go far enough to resolving outstanding post-Brexit issues surrounding safety inspections, nuclear trade, and international research collaboration.
Industry figures have previously noted that nuclear operations affect everything from medical treatment to scrap metal processing, and that the regulatory implications of exiting Euratom therefore go beyond just nuclear power stations.
However, energy minister Richard Harrington said the Bill would help secure the future of the UK's nuclear industry after Brexit.
"We are bringing forward the UK's first new nuclear power plants in a generation and it is in our mutual benefit to maintain the successful working relationship we have now with Europe, and the rest of the world, on nuclear matters," said Harrington in a statement. "This is what we will be looking to secure in negotiations with our partners."
The move comes ahead of the publication of the government's Clean Growth Strategy tomorrow, which is expected to signal the government's continued support for the development of new nuclear projects while warning the industry needs to reduce the cost of future reactors.
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