Page last updated at 12:25 GMT, Thursday, 4 December 2008

Firms agree to build UK reactors

Sizewell B nuclear power station
New nuclear reactors have not been built in the UK since the late 1980s.

A group of British and French firms have joined forces to build what could become the first of a series of new-generation nuclear reactors in the UK.

French nuclear firm Areva, engineering giant Rolls-Royce and construction firm Balfour Beatty will together engineer and construct new plants in the UK.

Areva is already working closely with energy giants E.ON of Germany and EDF of France.

Both firms are expected to participate in the UK's nuclear new-build plans.

This is good news for British manufacturing and engineering at a time when good news is much needed
Luc Oursel, Areva

Areva is also part of private consortium Nuclear Management Partners, which last month took over the management of Sellafield where it is tasked with cleaning up the most intricate nuclear complex in the world.

Jobs planned

Building the new generation reactors will take decades and will require considerable preparations by both the government and the private sector.

"We need to start now to forge the UK industrial landscape to ensure we have the right people, the right skills and the right industrial infrastructure," said Luc Oursel, president and chief executive of Areva.

Mr Oursel said nuclear new-build would "foster new jobs and significantly enhance skills and capabilities in UK manufacturing and construction".

Mike O'Brien, minister of state for energy and climate change, said the latest agreement alone would "provide up to 15,000 British manufacturing and construction jobs for 25 years".

"This is good news for British manufacturing and engineering at a time when good news is much needed," he said.

The planned revival of the UK's nuclear industry is a result of the government responding to concerns about anticipated energy shortages in the future, as well as part of its commitment to dramatically reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

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