UNCORRECTED TRANSCRIPT OF ORAL EVIDENCE To be published as HC 361-i

HOUSE OF COMMONS

MINUTES OF EVIDENCE

TAKEN BEFORE THE

NORTH WEST REGIONAL COMMITTEE

 

THE FUTURE OF THE NUCLEAR INDUSTRY IN THE NORTH WEST

TUESDAY 23 FEBRUARY 2010

 

PROFESSOR COLIN BOXALL, JULIE MAYKELS and RUPERT STEELE

DAVID HAYES, RICHARD LEAFE and FERGUS McMORROW

MARTIN FORWOOD and RALPH PRYKE

 

Evidence heard in Public

Questions 1 - 107

 

USE OF THE TRANSCRIPT

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Oral Evidence

Taken before the North West Regional Committee

on Tuesday 23 February 2010

Members present:

Mr. David Crausby (Chairman)

Rosie Cooper

Tony Lloyd

Mr. Eric Martlew

 

Examination of Witnesses

Witnesses: Professor Colin Boxall, University of Lancaster (on behalf of the North West Universities Association), Julie Maykels, North West Regional Manager, National Skills Academy for Nuclear and Rupert Steele, Director of Regulation, ScottishPower, gave evidence.

 

Q1 Chairman: Good afternoon, and welcome to this North West Regional Committee inquiry into nuclear power in the North West. I begin by asking you to introduce yourselves for the record.

Professor Boxall: I am Colin Boxall from Lancaster University, representing the North West Universities Association.

Rupert Steele: I am Rupert Steele, Director of Regulation for ScottishPower, representing Iberdrola, the parent company of ScottishPower.

Julie Maykels: I am Julie Maykels, North West Regional Manager for the National Skills Academy for Nuclear.

 

Q2 Chairman: Thank you. We understand that Mike Graham from Prospect is unable to attend, so if anyone wants to stand in for the unions, you are very welcome, but in the absence of that, the best thing is probably to ask whether Prospect wants to send us a written note. Perhaps we can deal with the matter in that way.

I begin the questions by asking all of you the extent to which you anticipate a skills gap in the nuclear industry in future, and whether you have concerns about the age profile of the work force.

Julie Maykels: The National Skills Academy for Nuclear has been working with Cogent, the sector skills council, which recently published research called "Power People". I don't know whether you have seen that. It is the most up-to-date research that we have and was published in January. It highlights some key areas for us to consider in terms of skills gaps, some of the critical issues of those skills gaps, some of the key drivers for the ageing work force of the nuclear sector, and the movement and different skills sets between different sub-sectors of the nuclear industry-for example, moving from operations to decommissioning, and then with new build having to move back to operations. Yes, there will be some skills gaps, and one critical area is the ageing work force. We understand that those issues need to be addressed.

Nationally, with new build, to maintain the current generating capacity, it is estimated that the industry will need circa 1,000 new recruits throughout the United Kingdom per annum. Approximately 60% of the work force is based in the North West and we could potentially need circa 600 new recruits going forward. Within that, there will be some specific areas that we need to look at.

Rupert Steele: From our point of view, clearly, the building of a new reactor of the sort currently on the table is relatively new for UK workers, so inevitably some upgrading of skills will be required, and some new techniques and new thoughts will undeniably be necessary. We are also conscious that we will be competing in a labour market with EDF on one hand and with Horizon Nuclear Power on the other, so there will be a certain tension in the jobs market. Obviously, at the Sellafield site we will have the benefit of a work force on our doorstep, as it were, which may give us some competitive advantage in hiring people and working with them to get their skills in the right place.

Professor Boxall: I don't think that there is one report on the skills profile-the skills needs of the industry-published in the last five years that has not identified a skills gap. Julie cites the Cogent report, the NAMTEC report on the supply chain published last year that identified the skills gap. Rolls-Royce has identified skills gaps. It is taken as a given, almost.

 

Q3 Chairman: Is it money? Can you tell us what you are doing to deal with the problem?

Julie Maykels: The National Skills Academy for Nuclear was set up in 2008, so we have been in operation for two years. The key driver for that was creating, developing and promoting a world-class work force, with career pathways to benefit the UK nuclear industry. The remit and the goal was to ensure that we have the right people with the right skills. Over the past two years, a number of activities have started that we hope will help to minimise the impact of any skills gaps. We currently have enough time to ensure that we have the skills in place. We obviously need to know what the timeline is for the North West, and we need to do some more detailed research about any specifics.

At the moment, we are seeing an increase in apprenticeships. In 2008 in the North West, we had 288 apprentices starting. In 2009, that increased to 380, so we have had a significant increase in apprenticeship uptake. That was in part due to a programme called the Community Apprenticeship Programme. We have some funding from the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority to help employers, particularly the smaller companies in the supply chain, to take on young people.

We are basically sharing the risk in terms of getting companies to take on young people, even if they haven't got the work, and helping them to support their salaries. It can take three and a half to four years to train an apprentice, and we need to make sure that we increase the number; year on year, we need to increase the apprenticeship uptake.

Some of the other things that we have been involved in include working for skills, to make sure that we get young people interested in science, engineering technology and maths subjects. So we have worked with junior skills and with secondary skills. That is starting to have an impact now, with those young people going on to do A-levels and we hope going on to specific degree programmes.

Another key driver for us was to cut the gap between technical and professional, and the development of foundation degrees has been critical over the last two years. Indeed, some are using foundation degrees to help recruit people who may have gone down a different career path with degrees not related to science, and bringing them into the arena by allowing them to do foundation degrees while working at the same time. There are various initiatives, and we have been working with employers to make sure that we do get that increase in uptake.

 

Q4 Mr. Martlew: When did we last construct a nuclear power station in the United Kingdom?

Rupert Steele: The last one was Sizewell B, which was in the late 1980s through to the early 1990s.

 

Q5 Mr. Martlew: The vast majority of people who worked on that have probably retired. Isn't the reality that, if we are to build more nuclear power stations, a lot of the work force will be international?

Rupert Steele: I think that the design work force will primarily be international at the early stages. Clearly, we and our consortium partners GDFSuez, and to a lesser extent Scottish and Southern Energy, will be following international developments in these new international designs. I don't see the physical construction work force-the bulk of the work-being international. Clearly, at Sellafield, around the 1990s we had the major project with THORP. Since that, a number of other facilities have been built on that site.

 

Q6 Mr. Martlew: But not to the extent that you are talking about with the three nuclear power stations?

Rupert Steele: We envisaged that we would need a bigger work force, indeed. But I don't see the bulk work force necessarily being brought in from Belgium, because they haven't built a nuclear power station there for quite a long time either. So I think the bulk work force will be home grown and we will be working closely with Julie and her organisation and others to achieve that.

 

Q7 Chairman: May I ask you specifically, Mr. Steele, about the nuclear skills passport? Are you going to equip your workers with that?

Rupert Steele: We are at the early stages of our plans. Obviously, we have only recently acquired the land option and we're having to put together our organisation at the top level with our consortium partners at the current stage. So we don't have a detailed staffing system and plan in place. We will clearly look at the nuclear skills passport. It's a very welcome scheme and we will be looking to interrupt the discussion further on that.

Professor Boxall: We in the academic sector welcome the nuclear skills passport. One of the problems in terms of getting students experience of real on-site working in a nuclear installation is that often, it takes a long time to get them through the training and security checks necessary to allow them to work in facilities that are on a nuclear licensed site, let alone active facilities. I know that Manchester and ourselves are looking at the possibility of employing a nuclear skills passport within the context of student training going forward. But that is at a very early stage.

 

Q8 Chairman: May I ask a couple of questions, beginning with Mrs. Maykels? The first one is effectively on funding. How much funding do you presently receive from the public sector?

Julie Maykels: Well, the National Skills Academy for Nuclear was set up through the Learning and Skills Council national skills academy network of funding. Between 2007 and 2010, we had a three-year contract with the Learning and Skills Council and three years of funding, which comes to an end at the end of this year.

In terms of revenue, that was £2.5 million, which was to set up the infrastructure of the national skills academy across England and support the development of some of the new products and services, including the nuclear skills passport. It also included £6 million capital, which has gone into supporting energies in west Cumbria-for example, Springfields apprentice centre-as well as some other activities in the south of the country. That funding comes to an end at the end of this year-2010.

 

Q9 Chairman: In your submission, you indicated that some confusion had been caused by a profusion of new initiatives. Can you tell us something more about that? What problems have been caused?

Julie Maykels: I am not sure whether it is a problem or something of a challenge. With the nuclear renaissance and new build being talked about, everybody wants a piece of the action. Lots of organisations have suddenly added nuclear to their agenda or footprint. It is about trying to understand what the agenda is for those organisations, and then trying to ensure you've got the effective communications to make sure that we don't duplicate. That is part of our remit as a national skills academy. We need to make sure that we do not duplicate activity, that we are fully aware of what is happening and that we ensure streamlining of that activity. It is a challenge.

 

Q10 Chairman: Is there any danger of duplication?

Julie Maykels: I don't think there's any duplication at the moment in terms of what we're doing on things such as the skills passport and the introduction of new apprenticeships and foundation degrees. The duplication is more around who communicates with the employers and who gets them talking about this. We need to make sure that, through our employee membership, we lead as much as we can on the skills agenda.

Chairman: We want to move on to some questions on the role of universities.

 

Q11 Tony Lloyd: First, may I ask a general question of you all? We talked a little about the skills gap in the industry as a whole. At the postgraduate level, is there a skills gap in terms of numbers of graduates and postgraduates, and are universities providing those who go through the university system with the skills that are needed in the industry for the present and the future?

Professor Boxall: Taking the tail-end of the question first, looking at the number of postgrads who have gone through my research group over the last five or six years, you spend three or four years training them up to a certain level and you have a vision that you will take them on to some sort of postdoctoral work. At the end of that period, if the student has been sponsored or has been working in the industry in some way, you are then into a bidding war between yourselves, Sellafield and the national nuclear laboratory on taking the student further. It depends on what their career aspirations are.

In terms of the skills profile that postgraduate and masters students are leaving with, certainly from our MEng degree at Lancaster, they are very well matched to the needs of the industry. The masters programmes in particular-the NTech masters programme and our decommissioning masters and safety masters programmes-were designed after a great deal of stakeholder and employer engagement. They are profiled against the needs of those particular industries. The safety MSc is not only on nuclear, but on rail and aerospace. I cannot remember what your first question was.

 

Q12 Chairman: That is the second part on the quality. The first part was really on the quantity that is coming through. I would be interested to come to the quality from your college as well.

Professor Boxall: At masters and PhD level, the numbers are restricted by the availability of bursaries.

Tony Lloyd: Overly restricted?

Professor Boxall: Define "overly".

Tony Lloyd: In terms of the researchers and practitioners in the field that we need, whether it be the new generation of nuclear stations or the existing nuclear facilities.

Professor Boxall: I'd say we aren't going far enough in terms of addressing that skills shortfall, no. In terms of whether or not there is an interest in taking up these degree programmes, we advertised two PhD studentships last year, which we won through the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, and we got 30 applicants. If you look at the nuclear graduate scheme that is run by the NDA, which offers 45 places a year, the rumours we are getting is that there were 2,000 applicants. There is no shortage of people wanting to go on these programmes. The shortage is in terms of funds to support that.

 

Q13 Tony Lloyd: Mr. Steele, from your perspective what is the quality and quantity of those coming through our universities?

Rupert Steele: Given that we are at the early formation stage of the business, we are not at the stage yet of recruiting people coming out of the universities. That will be happening shortly. We can really only follow the debate second hand at this stage.

Julie Maykels: In terms of the research we did at the beginning of our business planning stage with our employers, our employers are very keen to get good engineers, scientists and technologists coming through. They are happy with the standard in terms of the technical expertise. They are working with the universities to make sure that they have input from experts from industry, as far as is possible. It is a good example of that happening in this sector.

We as employers are working with universities to do that, and that is a positive thing. We definitely want to encourage it.

There is always a discussion about those commercial-type skills-the requirement for more commercial skills from graduates when they come out. To look at how we do that and how best to get that additional skill and knowledge base among the graduates, we are working with our employers and our network of universities to develop a certificate of professionalism in nuclear. That will be piloted in the North West from September.

Our employers are looking at that as the first kind of continual professional development activity for our new graduates coming in to work within the nuclear sector. There is a need to do something else. It is not necessarily for the universities to do that with all their engineering and physics graduates. However, employers want to see some activity, so we are working with the universities to develop something on that, which would then give those graduates some more commercial project management skills to go along with their technical knowledge and expertise.

Professor Boxall: May I follow up on that? It comes back to another point that you made, Mr. Martlew-that a lot of the retirees from the industry are now being captured by universities and being used as curriculum providers on university courses. That knowledge isn't being lost. Eventually it will be lost, because those ladies and gentlemen will unfortunately pass from among us, but we're making every attempt we can at the moment to get them engaged with the provision of specialist nuclear engineering and nuclear technology courses within a university environment.

 

Q14 Tony Lloyd: In terms of your experience as an operator of nuclear installations elsewhere, what would be the likely proportion of graduates among the work force? Do you have a ballpark figure for the levels of employment that we may be talking about generating, if the nuclear industry expands according to some of the forecasts put before us?

Rupert Steele: To extrapolate from our operations elsewhere, Iberdrola has a number of nuclear power stations in Spain. For example, in Cofrentes power station, about 40% of the permanent staff are graduates of one sort or another, so that gives a rough idea. Our guess at this early stage is that it would be similar in a UK plant.

In terms of numbers of jobs, again extrapolating from Cofrentes and some of the other power stations that we are involved in running, we would guess that there would be around 500 operational jobs for the power station and perhaps 250 for each subsequent reactor on the same site. During an outage you would expect perhaps 1,000 people to be visiting the site to perform various functions, because you wouldn't necessarily keep the entire capability in your permanent work force. In respect of the construction phase, we've looked at the international experience of the constructions that are going on at the moment and it looks like people are in practice peaking at around 4,000, depending on the type of power station being constructed.

 

Q15 Tony Lloyd: Professor Boxall, you talked a little bit about the demand from would-be graduate students, would-be research workers. What about at the undergraduate level? Is the demand strong at that level as well?

Professor Boxall: There is a great deal of demand in general engineering; that is ramping up quite considerably. I think we've seen a 20% increase in the number that applied for our mechanical engineering course at Lancaster. In terms of the nuclear engineering course, which only came on stream about three or four years ago, it started out with small numbers and has doubled every year since.

Undergraduates are starting to get a scent of this and are recognising that it will be one of these new industry, new jobs, or NINJ, areas-they are starting to turn their attention to it. Imperial college started its nuclear engineering undergraduate provision last October. What prompted it to do that was the running of an elective course on nuclear engineering, which was one sixth of a year of a degree. According to Robin Grimes, that attracted in the order of 250 students. There is no lack of interest in this area. It is gradually building.

 

Q16 Tony Lloyd: One of the problems that the universities in the North West face is that there is still a fair degree of uncertainty about how the industry will expand. How are you planning both at undergraduate and postgraduate level for both the numbers and the types of activities you are engaging in?

Professor Boxall: Planning wise, we are essentially restricted by the estate. At masters level, we do not have a room big enough to hold our current decommissioning safety people. We are looking at about 60 masters students per year, which is very large for a masters programme. In terms of undergraduate numbers, the money follows the numbers.

As the nuclear engineering degree builds up significantly, greater resources from the university will be ploughed in, but they have to go quite some way to compete with the mechanical side of things. Having said that, mechanical engineers will obviously find employment within the nuclear sector. The big gap on the engineering side of things will probably be in high-voltage electrical. That seems to be falling through the gaps here. High-voltage electrical engineers are very thin on the ground in this country.

 

Q17 Tony Lloyd: That is a national problem?

Professor Boxall: Yes.

 

Q18 Tony Lloyd: Do the pinch points that apply to you in Lancaster apply pretty much across the UK?

Professor Boxall: Yes, I would say so.

 

Q19 Tony Lloyd: You will not be surprised to hear that I have been lobbied by the University of Manchester about the physics funding. I was told that the nuclear side of physics is protected, but that there is uncertainty around future funding within the university system. What sort of concerns would you have as we look ahead about the ability of you on the whole nuclear side of higher education to provide the different levels of undergraduate training, and post-graduate training and research?

Professor Boxall: The major concern is the lack of active facilities: nuclear laboratories and radiochemical laboratories-that kind of thing. During the past 20 years or so, radiochemistry courses have closed, and nuclear engineering provision has shrunk prior to the current nuclear renaissance. Those sorts of facilities have been refurbished, often as non-laboratory facilities. That is a problem but there are solutions. We are looking at engaging with the NNL through its Workington facility, where it has a number of simulant rigs put up. There are ways around this, but it takes quite a bit of effort. It would be a lot of easier if we had those facilities on our doorstep within the department.

 

Q20 Tony Lloyd: One final question to you, although the others might like to comment. Is the relationship between the public sector-as in universities-and the private sector healthy? Is the private sector now beginning to put in its own resources into research areas and, where appropriate, the skills training effort?

Professor Boxall: Again, taking the masters courses as an example, because those courses were built based on consultation with the tier 1, tier 2 and tier 3 organisations, they are supported by the private sector. Similarly, before being at Lancaster, I was at the University of Central Lancashire. A number of the foundation degrees there were designed hand in glove with the industry, and have been very well supported by industry. It was very much following the philosophy of Leitch. At that level, we found that the private sector was always very willing to get involved in advising us and, in some instances, assisting us in terms of curriculum delivery.

Tony Lloyd: Do you have any comments to make, Mr. Steele?

Rupert Steele: No.

Julie Maykels: Can I just say that I think that engagement between the public and private sector is exceptionally strong in the nuclear sector? I know that we have had a few examples, but others would be Westinghouse supporting a chair at the Dalton Nuclear Institute, and all the universities with a number of employers progressing the North West science strategy through a nuclear sub-group, so the relationship is very strong, and we need to build on that.

 

Q21 Mr. Martlew: The thing that is obvious but hasn't been said is the fact that you can recruit so well. Is it not the case that it is a very well-paid industry?

Rupert Steele: We have not set our pay conditions for our work force, but it is a highly skilled industry and we would expect remuneration to reflect that.

 

Q22 Mr. Martlew: You are saying that there is no skills shortage because people want to work in an industry that is well-paid?

Rupert Steele: There is a lot of work to be done to get the skills in place.

Mr. Martlew: That is a politician's answer, Mr. Steele.

Rupert Steele: I shall take that as a high compliment. Clearly, it is a well-skilled industry that will pay appropriate wages for the level of skill. We have a lot of work to do with the age profile. The image of the industry might have discouraged people from joining it in years gone by, but that is changing now. People do not see it as a sunset industry, but as something that is important and worth participating in. We look forward to being a good employer that our staff will value.

 

Q23 Rosie Cooper: Understandably, the nuclear industry will require very high standards from its construction work force. Do you have any thoughts about how we can ensure that local and regional organisations and construction firms are well placed to take advantage of that, and also about whether that would be any issue should there be more than one power station built in the North West?

Rupert Steele: In terms of the local supply chain, clearly there are a number of extremely skilled companies that are organised around the Sellafield area, supporting the existing site. Westlake science park plays host to many of those organisations, and there are others in different locations. The availability of that local supply chain is one of the things that attracted us to that site, because clearly there will be people whom we can draw on. At the same time, other aspects of these power stations will require a great deal of specialism and there will be, perhaps, only a small number of places in which those particular skills or facilities can be sought.

For the heavy forgings, there are only a limited number of places in the world where that can be done. There is some very exciting news about Sheffield Forgemasters developing some capability, and we will be following that as it goes forward. We will have to have the resources that are appropriate to the task in hand. We think that we are very fortunate in having some very good resources on our doorstep.

 

Q24 Rosie Cooper: Do you have any concerns about the supply chain's ability to respond to new construction work?

Rupert Steele: Clearly, there is an issue if there is to be a worldwide nuclear renaissance, as there will be bottlenecks in some of the most specialist parts of the supply chain, and that is why it is important to develop those supply chain areas and improve their capability.

 

Q25 Rosie Cooper: What about the capacity of the local supply chain?

Rupert Steele: In some senses, that is a bit easier, because if the local supply chain is full, we can obviously look at other supply chains elsewhere in the UK or possibly internationally. We would envisage, as we get closer to the construction date of 2015 that we have been talking about, really getting to know the supply chain well and getting a feeling of what we can do with them and where it makes more sense to go a little bit further afield for the right balance of skills, resource and so on.

 

Q26 Tony Lloyd: Obviously there will be highly specialised people involved in the construction of new stations, but there will be an awful lot of routine construction jobs. They will be skilled, but transferable from other parts of the construction industry. One concern is that we will see, particularly in the North West, a sudden blip in the price of everyone from bricklayers to electricians to whoever. Are you satisfied that those in the conventional construction industry are planning properly for that type of future so that you can have a supply of labour that you want and so that the rest of us can have the supply of labour that we need elsewhere?

Rupert Steele: Clearly, it will be important for us to address that issue. We probably have a little time before we do, given the time frame we have indicated. It will be very important for us to talk to all the stakeholders about how we manage the peak of the construction activity, and to ensure that it works both for the community and companies concerned, and for those building the reactor.

Julie Maykels: May I add to that? We have seen some keen interest from a number of organisation, mainly construction companies based in the North West, that are keen to get involved in the nuclear industry, even if they do not have contracts. They are looking to upskill and reskill their work force, take on new apprentices and use some of the programmes we have implemented-the Award for Nuclear Industry Awareness is one-so that some of their work force already have some of the knowledge and nuclear-speak in readiness for looking at any contracts. There are some very keen construction companies out there that have signed up to working with the skills academy, and that is of real value going forward.

The other key point is that we are working very closely with the Construction Industry Training Board and the Engineering Construction Industry Training Board on the standards required for the nuclear sector, and we are looking to align that with the nuclear skills passport. That is a critical area of development and something that we will be working on closely over the next six to 12 months to make sure that we have that in place, that all those bodies are talking to each other, that we have standards agreed and that construction companies can then access the qualifications and do some upskilling before they need to look at contracts and procurement.

 

Q27 Mr. Martlew: The industry is a traditional one. We are seeing demands for higher skills. How do you think you are addressing the gender gap?

Julie Maykels: There is an issue with the gender gap. You can look at the figures: I think that about 75% of the people working in the nuclear sector at the moment are male. Traditionally, it has been dominated in that way, but a few things are coming forward now that are of real interest and are positive moves. We have a young generation network of under 34-year-olds. The make-up of that group is a 50:50 male-female split, so that is a really positive move.

We have some really positive role models coming through. We've just had our awards ceremony for apprentice of the year and foundation degree student of the year, and in the North West our apprentice of the year was a female electrical craftsperson and our foundation degree student of the year was female. It's good to have those role models coming through. We can use them in all the work that we do with schools and universities on the opportunities for females within the nuclear sector. It is a challenge, but there are some positive steps in the right direction that we need to build on.

 

Q28 Mr. Martlew: I'm sure you would say that but, Mr. Steele, what's your organisation doing about this?

Rupert Steele: Clearly, the attractiveness of science and engineering careers to females is an issue that affects us across the whole of our business-not just this project but the other parts of our electrical business. We've been conscious of this and the importance of addressing it through the education system to try to dispel the stereotype that this is not work that should be attractive to women. We see no reason why it shouldn't be and we're keen to see a gender balance.

 

Q29 Mr. Martlew: Are you taking positive steps or are you just waiting for it to happen?

Rupert Steele: I will have to get back to you on precisely what ScottishPower is doing, but I'm confident that we are doing what we can.

 

Q30 Mr. Martlew: I want to come back to an earlier point that I made when I asked whether it was a well-paid industry. The answer is yes, it is. Perhaps it's none of your business, but how will you ensure that you don't denude other industries in the area of the skills that they need?

Rupert Steele: I guess I would answer that in economist-speak, which is to say that there's a market for workers and if workers can add more value working for us than working for somebody else, that's the market operating as it should. Clearly, we're not going to go round riding roughshod over our neighbours, because it's very important in this business to be a good neighbour and to work well with other people, but if you have attractive, well-paid careers to offer, you might get a better choice than if you don't.

 

Q31 Mr. Martlew: I understand that from your point of view. I say this because I represent a constituency that is 40 miles away from Sellafield and its major industry is food processing, which can't afford to pay the money that you pay in the nuclear industry. Perhaps it doesn't get the Government support that the nuclear industry gets. Ms Maykels, how are you going to tackle this? How will we tackle the issue of the skills that, due to the market forces that have been described, will disappear from the food processing industry, for example, into the nuclear industry?

Julie Maykels: I don't think we're going to tackle that. There is a National Skills Academy for Food and Drink Manufacturing. I think that was set up at about the same time as the National Skills Academy for Nuclear. I know from meeting its regional manager that it's involved in an awful lot of activity in terms of recruiting and restructuring the work force and upskilling and reskilling. From the skills academy point of view, we would be looking to support other skills academies in the network and to pass on good practice and so on to help them to achieve what they need to achieve for their sector, but ultimately our role is very much about the nuclear sector and world-class skills for that sector.

 

Q32 Mr. Martlew: I understand that you are probably not the right people to ask, but this is probably the only soap box I am going to have. With a place such as Cumbria, the food industry has moved to another part of the country. Therefore, it could well happen that we will not get any extra jobs whatsoever from you coming, unless we can meet the skills gap on a wider basis. Perhaps we need to take that up with the Learning and Skills Council.

Julie Maykels: From my personal knowledge of speaking at the National Skills Academy for Food and Drink Manufacturing, I would say that I think that it might be that some of the skills they are looking to attract are not at the same level. Frequently, they have been looking to take on apprentices, but maybe only up to level 2 or 3, and not necessarily to take them through that, because of the work requirements. I suppose that is something that might be a consideration, but that is just from personal knowledge.

Professor Boxall: The big issue in west Cumbria has been the reskilling of the process workers at Sellafield. If reprocessing stops, then from 2012 to 2019, there is a projected decrease in employment rates at Sellafield of 66% from 12,000 down to 4,000. Getting that work force reskilled is the big thing to deal with first, rather than poaching from other areas.

 

Q33 Mr. Martlew: I am glad that you have brought that figure up, because there is the issue of reprocessing. In fact, one, two or three nuclear power stations on the west coast will not actually balance that out, will it?

Professor Boxall: I think the numbers that Rupert mentioned suggested that the post-construction operation needed about 3,000 people to actually run the stations. Divide that by 10 across the UK, and that is about 300 people a station, although he will correct me if I'm wrong. So probably not, no. The reprocessing argument is an argument that is yet to be had.

 

Q34 Mr. Martlew: There is an argument over the issue of the nuclear waste as well.

Professor Boxall: Yes, there is that as well. There is also the deep geological repository, and the work at CORWM.

 

Q35 Rosie Cooper: What kind of opportunities would there be for school leavers and others without higher educational qualifications in the industry? Also, how many apprentice positions would you create if you were to build a new reactor at Sellafield?

Rupert Steele: I am sorry to repeat this point, but clearly we are at a fairly early stage of putting our enterprise together, so I cannot give you a precise number on this. In terms of apprentices, we are talking about a very long-term investment operating for 40 to 60 years generating electricity, plus construction beforehand and decommissioning afterwards. It is the sort of business that we would naturally want to consider in the regulatory framework growing its own talent locally through apprenticeships.

We are obviously conscious that in an environment such as west Cumbria the children of existing workers in the nuclear industry may want to move into the industry in due course. I think we would be expected by our stakeholders to facilitate that and find ways to make that work. There are clearly a lot of roles in a nuclear power station that do not require the very highest level of technical skill. As regards those people who do not need to be graduates, we will be looking for roles that can properly perform.

 

Q36 Rosie Cooper: In any of the organisations that you currently have, how many jobs would not be jobs that require higher qualifications? What sort of balance?

Rupert Steele: We said that at Cofrentes we have about 40% graduates, so that is a guideline that we can start with. Obviously, Cofrentes is a slightly earlier design of power plant than the kind that we are talking about now, but it is a similar sort of capacity-1,100 MW.

 

Q37 Rosie Cooper: Do you have any apprenticeships in other places? What is the proportion?

Rupert Steele: ScottishPower runs an apprenticeship scheme. I don't have the precise figures to hand.

 

Q38 Rosie Cooper: Will you let us know roughly what that percentage is, please, and if you have any idea whether you intend to keep it the same or increase it?

Rupert Steele: Yes, we'll get you details of our apprentice scheme.

 

Q39 Chairman: Just a couple of final questions from me. First, to all of you, a question about the region's infrastructure: what is needed as far as the region is concerned to improve the infrastructure to support the expansion of the nuclear industry? And, most importantly, who should pay for it?

Rupert Steele: I'll have a go.

Chairman: You'll pay?

Rupert Steele: Not necessarily on the latter question. The most important piece of infrastructure for the proposed power station at Sellafield is to get the electricity away. At the moment, there is not an adequate grid connection in west Cumbria to enable the electricity to be generated. The basic plan is to upgrade the line that goes round the coast of Cumbria from 132,000 V to 400,000 V, which would provide adequate export capacity to enable a power station to be built. It would also enable other energy infrastructure in the area to be developed.

That will be a very important piece of work and we need to talk in great detail with National Grid, Ofgem, the local authorities and the Lake District national park to find a solution that meets everybody's requirements. I see it as being very much a team effort to deliver that infrastructure. We believe that because it's infrastructure that will be supporting the generality of generation in west Cumbria, it will effectively become part of electricity transmission charges and that is how the costs will be covered. That is perhaps No. 1 on my infrastructure list.

We are also well aware that people in west Cumbria are interested in the road infrastructure. We think that it will be very important at a early stage to do a transportation study so that we understand both how we are going to get everything to the site during the construction phase-people and materials-and how we are going to get the work force on and off the site during the operational phase. That is a really important study. In the light of that study, when it is done, and working with stakeholders, we will need to understand what improvements, if any, are needed and how they should be progressed.

Chairman: Are there any other comments on infrastructure?

 

Q40 Mr. Martlew: Something we haven't touched on is that not everywhere wants nuclear facilities, because of the perception of the potential consequences. How do you think that the communities that take these facilities should be rewarded? What sort of infrastructure improvements should there be for that? If you look at the French example, you can see that they do very well out of it, don't they? All we talk about are better roads and some way of getting the electricity out.

Rupert Steele: I think that, judging from the reaction in west Cumbria when we made the announcement about purchasing the land adjacent to Sellafield, the general view and feedback is very positive. Obviously, you will be speaking to a representative from Copeland later and they will speak for themselves, but my understanding is that there was a high degree of welcome for our proposal. I also think the economic benefits to the area will be of great importance to our neighbours and stakeholders.

It is absolutely right that we study transportation and issues like it. Whether there should be some further rewards for the communities that host these things is a matter for political debate. The economics of nuclear power is not such that it can support significant flows of this kind, so in effect, if there were going to be further rewards for people in the locality of power stations, that would need to be paid for by an extra charge on consumers. I think that is a matter upon which there can be a debate. We will follow whatever conclusion it reaches.

 

Q41 Tony Lloyd: We have not had answers to strategic questions on a couple of occasions. Mr. Martlew asked about planning for the labour market and the impact of the nuclear industry sucking in labour from other industries. That is a real issue, but maybe not for you here. There are questions about transportation, who bears the costs and gets the benefits of any pressures on the transportation system, and how we improve the transportation system. I suppose a more general question is: are we going to maximise the benefits if we see this increase in the size of the nuclear industry?

This is a general question to all: have we got the strategic oversight of this change to iron out the problems and examine the costs and the benefits, particularly in terms of knowing who will pay the costs and how we will ameliorate them? Moreover, will we as a nation be able to get the benefits, whether in terms of research capacity or other areas, from any change in the nuclear industry? From what you have all been saying, I cannot see that, but maybe I am being unkind. You can be unkind about other people, of course.

Professor Boxall: Certainly in the 21st century, the nuclear industry has very much got its house in order in a whole range of areas, particularly on the issue of transparency.

Tony Lloyd: I may not be asking whether it should be the nuclear industry that does the strategic planning. That may be for central Government or local authorities. I am just asking you to give the guide as to whether you think it is there.

Professor Boxall: Within the nuclear sector, there is a proliferation of bodies that take a strategic overview, so that information is available and those thoughts are being had. In terms of the way in which nuclear articulates with other business sectors, the whole "energy coast" idea in west Cumbria has been building for the past four or five years.

Again, that is nuclear talking to the energy sector as opposed to the food processing sector or the farming sector and so on. One would have hoped that the Office for Nuclear Development within the Department of Energy and Climate Change was starting to have a dialogue on policy articulation with other sectors in areas where there are high concentrations of nuclear assets and facilities. I am not certain whether that is happening.

Rupert Steele: I was going to mention the Government's role through the Office for Nuclear Development. I think that it is very focused on the whole process of relaunching the nuclear industry and is working very hard, in my experience, to make sure that all the various aspects are thought through and connected together. I know that it is closely in touch with the local authorities in Cumbria in many formal and informal ways, and I am sure that local authorities will be happy to explain their role in co-ordinating everything that needs to be done.

I think that we have probably got the building blocks in place for central Government with local government and, in our case, an industry that is certainly very focused on the importance of being a good neighbour and working well with our stakeholders. Whether we have all the solutions out on the table at this relatively early stage is a different question.

 

Q42 Chairman: One final question to ScottishPower and you, Mr. Steele, on accommodation. Who is going to house the thousands of construction workers who will be coming on a temporary basis to these sites? In some ways, it is related to the question that Eric Martlew asked about wages. It would be very unsettling to the housing market if it is not dealt with responsibly.

Rupert Steele: That is clearly an important issue that we must work through. We have talked to one or two local stakeholders already about the experience with the building of THORP, where I think it is generally thought that perhaps there wasn't as much planning and forethought about how to handle the work force for construction as would have been ideal. We certainly intend to build on and learn from that experience and do it better.

Precisely what the solution is-I don't want to invent something in front of you today. It will involve our doing a detailed study, working with the local authorities and with people who have had experience in large projects of this kind, to find something that works for the locals, works for the community, works for us as the people who are going to be writing the cheques, and works environmentally. That is something very important that we need to do.

Chairman: Thank you very much for your evidence. We are very grateful for the contribution that you have made. We are now going to move on to the second group of witnesses. Thank you very much.

 

Examination of Witnesses

Witnesses: David Hayes, Energy Consultant, Cumbria Vision, Richard Leafe, Chief Executive, Lake District National Park Authority, and Fergus McMorrow, Chief Executive, Copeland Borough Council, gave evidence.

 

Q43 Chairman: Good afternoon and welcome. The best thing to do is to allow you to introduce yourselves and then we will get going.

Fergus McMorrow: I am Fergus McMorrow, Chief Executive at Copeland Borough Council.

David Hayes: I am David Hayes, energy consultant at Cumbria Vision.

Richard Leafe: I am Richard Leafe. I am the Chief Executive of the Lake District National Park Authority.

Chairman: Thank you. We are going to start with a question from Eric Martlew on new builds and the economy.

 

Q44 Mr. Martlew: You mentioned in your evidence, Mr. McMorrow, that there has been a decline in the traditional industries, which has been going on for as long as I can remember, but there is also likely to be a significant decline in the numbers at Sellafield. What will the effect be on your area of not getting nuclear power stations?

Fergus McMorrow: The projections we are working to, although slightly out of date, are that over the next few years-I won't put a date on it-the expectation is that the number of jobs on Sellafield site will decline from about 12,000 to about 4,000. A significant trigger for change is the ending of the reprocessing contracts at Sellafield. Obviously, it is a major issue when you consider that about 50% of all Copeland's jobs are on the site at Sellafield and the vast majority of the rest are local services. There really aren't many other significant employers that are not local services in the area. So it is a very dominant industry in the area and it is absolutely vital for the economy.

 

Q45 Mr. Martlew: We have heard that if you get three stations, that in itself would not take up the slack from the loss at Sellafield. Is that the case?

Fergus McMorrow: Absolutely. Our expectation is that if three stations happened it would be a part in a jigsaw of a future plan for the area. Where it could provide significant benefits for us is if you had three stations developed in a phased programme over a long period of time. Then the number of construction jobs created could do a lot to offset the decline in the Sellafield site, and if nothing else, would buy us a significant amount of time, diversifying the economy and introducing other employment initiatives.

 

Q46 Mr. Martlew: You mentioned it was a jigsaw. What is the other major part of the jigsaw?

Fergus McMorrow: There are various plans in terms of trying to move the nuclear industry in Copeland from a site-based industry, based on the Sellafield site, to a centre of excellence in nuclear, providing and selling services to the new nuclear renaissance which is becoming worldwide. There is a lot of expertise in the area. Obviously there is the National Nuclear Laboratory. There is higher education investment taking place in the area. So the plan in the future is to develop the nuclear industry, but not reliant on one site, but to diversify within the sector and then use the expertise there to diversify into other sectors. In addition to that there are sectors like the tourism sector and other sectors that we would want to develop.

 

Q47 Mr. Martlew: You haven't mentioned the storage of nuclear waste.

Fergus McMorrow: We currently store nuclear waste and that is part of the employment of our area-storage, conditioning and packaging. There is an issue in terms of the long-term deposition of nuclear waste on depository which the community will need to take a view on in the future. We are involved in a process of discussion on that, but there are no decisions at the moment.

 

Q48 Mr. Martlew: May I turn to you, Mr. Leafe? We've got this great enthusiasm for nuclear developments on the west coast. How do you think that impacts on the tourist industry within the national park?

Richard Leafe: There are a couple of issues there. The first thing to say is that the park authority is not enthusiastic for three new nuclear sites in west Cumbria. We fully understand and support the need for maintaining the nuclear industry. We understand that that is an essential component of achieving sustainable development on the west coast, but we feel that two of the sites, at Braystones and Kirksanton, have unacceptable impacts on the national park, both alone and, particularly, in combination with two others.

 

Q49 Mr. Martlew: Are any of these sites in the national park?

Richard Leafe: None of them are in the park.

Mr. Martlew: I didn't think they were.

Richard Leafe: The Kirksanton site is right up against the boundary of the park, and all of them are pretty close. I think the furthest is about 1.5 km away; that would be the Sellafield site. But when you are considering views from the park out on to that magnificent open space-

Mr. Martlew: If you're standing on the fells and looking towards the Isle of Man.

Richard Leafe: Yes. The notion of three large nuclear facilities there, we think, would have a cumulative impact that would be detrimental.

You asked about the tourist industry. The tourist industry within the park, on the western fringes, is a fairly fragile beast at the best of times. It rightly has potential to grow, and ideas about expansion. I think there are risks to that growth if there is a strong perception that that part of Cumbria and the coast is given up to the nuclear industry. There are some risks around the growth of tourism in that area. That is the way I would put it.

 

Q50 Mr. Martlew: I realise that the planning board isn't really the tourist board, but in fact, that argument has been put for the last 50 years, that I can remember. The west coast has never really benefited from the tourist industry, has it?

Richard Leafe: No, I think that's absolutely right. We're not the tourist board, but we share the aspirations of the tourist industry. We think there is great potential for growth. The western part of the national park has some of the most fantastic mountainous and lake scenery that we've got in this country and some of the best bits of the park. Certainly, we're supportive of the aspirations to increase that.

I think the transport infrastructure is a critical element of that. You questioned the previous speakers about what key infrastructure is needed to support the growth of the nuclear industry. From a tourism perspective-and indeed from a low-carbon, climate change perspective-looking at the rail infrastructure of west Cumbria would be a very important thing to do. That may bring benefits for the communities in allowing for the first time-this always staggers me-people to make journeys into the south-west side of the national park on a Sunday, which you currently can't do. There are real opportunities for the tourist industry if we get that infrastructure.

 

Q51 Mr. Martlew: You sound like you're advocating going from Windermere to Keswick by rail. Is that the case?

Richard Leafe: From Windermere to Keswick? That would be quite a challenge.

 

Q52 Mr. Martlew: Can we come to a general question? Do you think the Government are doing enough to develop the nuclear industry in the North West?

David Hayes: They're doing a large amount on the national stage. Obviously, the national policy statement is in the right direction. We believe that the process of the Infrastructure Planning Commission is very much in the right direction. Clearly, the Government will need to send the right signals to the industry for the further development of nuclear power. That may be around the modification of electricity markets and carbon prices or carbon taxes to provide the right climate so that industry is confident to invest in the nuclear industry, but we're certainly very pleased with the direction in which Government are moving, and we get a large amount of help from the Northwest Regional Development Agency at the regional level in terms of helping along the nuclear industry there.

 

Q53 Mr. Martlew: That's good, if you could perhaps develop on it, but what you are really saying is that the private sector will not develop the nuclear industry unless the Government have the commitment. There's the commitment, and money's going to have to go in. Isn't that the case, Mr. Hayes?

David Hayes: In the current climate, that's got to be an issue.

 

Q54 Mr. Martlew: But even without the current climate, the issue of the market is that nuclear could well be long-term, but there isn't a lot of money in just going and building a power station privately at the moment, is there?

David Hayes: I think what you have at the moment is three significant consortiums-the Iberdrola consortium, RWE and E.ON joined together as Horizon and EDF-who have all given a public commitment to develop new nuclear power in England and Wales by 2025. So the first signs are there, but clearly they will be looking for something from the Government, I guess, in order to convince them that the economic conditions are right. That could be around the market. The Government have made it clear that they won't subsidise new nuclear power, quite rightly-we believe that the cost of it should be borne by the private sector-but there is obviously a debate to be had between the industry and the Government on what exactly the conditions are going forward.

 

Q55 Mr. Martlew: You mentioned the supportive role that the Northwest Development Agency has played. There is a proposal, of course, by one political party to do away with that. Do you think that would hamper the progress of the nuclear industry in west Cumbria?

David Hayes: That is obviously for any future Government. One party has-

Mr. Martlew: But you've said they've been very supportive.

David Hayes: Exactly, yes. It is part of one party's political programme to abolish such bodies, but certainly we have found the party very supportive in terms of encouraging the manufacture of nuclear components in the North West and encouraging the supply chain by providing funding as seedcorn to promote development. They are playing a very helpful role in establishing the North West as the Government's low-carbon economic area and the seedlings of a North West nuclear industry cluster.

 

Q56 Mr. Martlew: So basically they did help in the regional supply chain?

David Hayes: Yes, indeed so.

Q57 Mr. Martlew: Can we come back to you, Mr. McMorrow? It is suggested that there will be 5,000 construction jobs. How do we come to that figure?

Fergus McMorrow: We have not done any original research on that. I think we are basically using the 4,000 figure that has been used by various parties and that comes from experience elsewhere, and we are making the assumption that there will be other indirect jobs as a result of that, given the long construction period. So we see the potential of 5,000 jobs on that basis.

 

Q58 Mr. Martlew: Just as a supplementary to that, you perhaps heard the earlier question about infrastructure and what the community should gain-other than jobs-from having the nuclear industry. Has Copeland got an agenda on that?

Fergus McMorrow: Our view is that the transport infrastructure in Copeland needs upgrading significantly, as a priority. The existing transport infrastructure is not sufficient even for our existing sites, and certainly not for additional investment. So we would be looking to ensure that the appropriate long-term investments are made in transport infrastructure. Some of that would be linked to the development of a new nuclear power station, to whatever was required from a planning point of view to make that effective. That would not be all of it, but it would be part of a jigsaw in terms of a longer-term upgrading of the infrastructure.

 

Q59 Mr. Martlew: One final point. Health care is always a problem in Cumbria because we have two district general hospitals. Do you think that the nuclear industry should ensure that there is a good district general hospital in west Cumbria?

Fergus McMorrow: I'm not entirely sure that it is the nuclear industry's task to do that, but I think it's important that the Government do that as they look at the bigger picture in terms of growth and investment in west Cumbria and the need to provide appropriate health services to support that investment and growth, and the nation's economic development.

 

Q60 Chairman: I'm going to ask some questions on infrastructure. May I begin with David Hayes from Cumbria Vision? Can you tell us something about the need to construct the Cumbria ring?

David Hayes: The construction of a new electricity grid infrastructure is absolutely fundamental to the new build project; without a new Cumbria ring it simply won't happen. We have been talking informally to National Grid and to a range of stakeholders, including Richard Leafe and his colleagues and some of the local planners, for about a year now.

The grid has done a preliminary study on the issues and has offered the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority a so-called grid connection agreement that would enable Sellafield to be connected up to the national grid as part of a new grid ring system by 2023 or 2025. But to cut to the chase, a new electricity grid, a 400 kV line going around the Cumbrian ring, is a prerequisite for new nuclear build, so we have recognised that as almost the key early issue. We have been working hard with National Grid to prepare the ground before that, and we have been talking to Richard Leafe and his colleagues about the impacts on the national park and so on.

 

Q61 Chairman: How does the Lake District national park feel about that? How do you, Mr. Leafe, think that that should be implemented?

Richard Leafe: As David Hayes has said, we have had a year's worth of quite detailed discussions about how the ring might operate. We accept that there is a need for a ring if there is going to be a need to get power from the new station and any other renewable facilities on the west coast. Our preference would be to take it offshore and not to have the large pylons running through or close to the national park.

However, our approach is one that attempts to reconcile this route with the special qualities of the park. So we have been looking in a lot of detail at which sections of the ring we would like to see undergrounded, to avoid the greatest impact on the national park.

 

Q62 Chairman: What about other improvements to the infrastructure? Eric Martlew has already asked about the question of the health service. What about the question of accommodation, with all those temporary workers coming in, and the effect that that will have?

Fergus McMorrow: That is obviously a major issue for us and it is very difficult at this point in time to understand exactly the scale of that issue, because we are potentially talking about three sites. We don't know whether there will be three, or what the timing will be. If they all happen together, that will be totally different from how it would be if there were a sequential programme. So we are really working in a vacuum, in that sense, at the moment.

As a planning authority, what we are looking at is how we would go about integrating that kind of infrastructure into the community. We will need to make assumptions about the number of local people who will be employed and the number of additional contractors who will be brought in. Again, it will all depend on the scenario that is actually implemented at the end of the day.

Where temporary accommodation is required, we are looking at the options for integrating that temporary accommodation into existing communities and at its legacy use. For example, could you end up with accommodation that could be used for students or for leisure use in the long term? We will need to take into account all these kinds of issues, in a kind of holistic approach to dealing with this.

However, the issue for us at the moment is that there is not enough information. We do not know exactly what will go forward. It is hard to produce real information on impacts. We believe that there is an enormous amount of work to do on the local impacts of a range of scenarios that could happen in Cumbria, before any real decisions or any real strategy about how to deal with those scenarios can be identified.

 

Q63 Chairman: What about emergency planning resources? You must have extensive experience of that. However, in the event of something being developed away from Sellafield, would the resources be there?

Fergus McMorrow: Yes, I think so. I think that one of the advantages of having Sellafield as a huge resident is that there is quite a lot of capacity in terms of emergency planning and there are regular emergency planning exercises and quite a lot of expertise about emergency planning in the area. Of course, emergency planning applies to all kinds of facilities in the area and not just to the Sellafield site, although the Sellafield site obviously dwarves other sites. I think that the capacity is there. It is just about ensuring that alternative sites are managed and that the right kind of plans are put in place. But I think that, compared with most areas, that capacity and expertise does exist in the area.

 

Q64 Chairman: Okay. What about the impact of large numbers of male temporary workers coming in? What kind of impact will they have on the region? I was once in Portsmouth on a Saturday night when the fleet came in, and it was not a pretty sight. I just wonder how that would impact on the region as a whole and how people would respond to it.

Fergus McMorrow: You are absolutely right. That is potentially a major social issue for us. I know that we have had workshops on what the impact of that issue might be. The police would say that there is potentially an issue there. It is thought that if development took place, there would be a lot of males in the area during the week looking for something to do in the evening. There would be more pressure on town centre life, if you like.

Our task is really to plan very well for what is happening, to try to ensure, as far as we can, that local people get access to the employment, ideally by encouraging the proper phasing of the developments against change in employment at Sellafield and making sure that we have the proper retraining in place, as well as by ensuring that we are integrating temporary accommodation with the community rather than having great encampments of contractors. So we need quite an integrated planning approach. That will take quite a lot of resource, effort and time and I think that that is an issue for us.

If we are going to do it effectively-if it's going to work-we need to engage as a local authority in all these issues and work in tandem with the developer and the Infrastructure Planning Commission to make sure that we're addressing them properly. At the end of the day, success will depend on what effort goes into proper local planning of the facilities and the impacts.

Richard Leafe: We'll have to find a way of getting the temporary workers to release some of their adrenaline in the Lake District national park at the weekends.

 

Q65 Chairman: You have a particular concern about the whole of the national park. There must be an impact with all those temporary workers and all that additional money.

Richard Leafe: I think that's largely for the communities in which they're based, but I'm saying there may be a safety valve here in physical recreation-outdoor recreation-in the park. That might help.

 

Q66 Rosie Cooper: Mr. Hayes, in your evidence you advocate reprocessing spent fuel. Where should that reprocessing take place? Also, should the positioning of the repository be linked to the decision about where any new power plants should be?

David Hayes: We clearly believe that there is a lot of potential for further reprocessing business, whether that's UK business or international business. That may require a change of approach or of policy by the Government, but certainly we believe there is a lot of business potential for new reprocessing business at Sellafield.

I don't believe that that decision should be linked in any way to the decision on the repository or that there should be a link between the repository decision and new nuclear power. The repository process is very much a separate one. Fergus McMorrow is part of the partnership on that and may want to add to that, but I think the repository process is very much a separate process and should remain that way.

Fergus McMorrow: The key issue for the repository is, first, that the final location is safe and secure. That has to be the top issue. The second issue from our point of view is that the community has to support and accept it. I think that in practical terms, the nuclear new build will be spread around the country and will be a very, very small proportion of what will go into repository. So I don't think that the issue of the location of repository impacts significantly on nuclear new build siting.

 

Q67 Rosie Cooper: Did I miss this? Where would the reprocessing take place?

David Hayes: At Sellafield-on the Sellafield site.

 

Q68 Rosie Cooper: Sorry; I missed that. Mr. McMorrow, the decision about where to put the repository will no doubt need the support of the local community. What is your view regarding the local community at the moment?

Fergus McMorrow: At this stage, the local community's view on siting the repository has not been properly tested. What has happened at this stage is that the local community's view on the process that we're engaged in and the partnership we've set up, its awareness of the repository and general feelings about it, have been tested recently, although we haven't had the final results back.

We can't really gauge local feelings until we have investigated the issues as a partnership, communicated on this properly to the community, made sure they understand the issues and got feedback, but that's a long way off for us. I wouldn't want to prejudge what the community would say, but in terms of the process that we've adopted so far, the initial indications we're getting back from our community engagement work are that there is good support for what we're doing.

 

Q69 Rosie Cooper: So the general feeling is that it would be supportive?

Fergus McMorrow: There is support for where we are in the process at the moment, but it's an early stage in the process.

Rosie Cooper: But you indicated that you had a general feeling. How would you describe that general feeling?

Fergus McMorrow: The general feeling at this stage is a positive feeling, but that's without detailed knowledge of all the implications yet.

 

Q70 Rosie Cooper: What is the timeline? How will you start to engage local communities?

Fergus McMorrow: We've already started engaging local communities.

Rosie Cooper: In the detail?

Fergus McMorrow: It's hard to say. I think the expectation is that over the next 18 months, there will be a recommendation from the partnership to local authorities on whether to take forward the next stage, which is the formal decision to participate in the process. That would start to look more closely at potential geographic locations for a repository. It will take many years to go through the process and understand properly the implications of those potential locations, and that presumes that there will be a positive decision to go to the next stage, which is undetermined at the moment. There is still a lot of water to go under the bridge, but so far, the process is going very well.

David Hayes: May I clarify my earlier answer? I didn't want to give the impression that there is no link between new nuclear power and waste management or the repository in that sense. Clearly, there is a desire by the public in general to have confidence that there is a long-term solution to the waste issue, which obviously relates to the nuclear power issue. I wanted to make the point that I think the decision-making process on where the repository is sited is separate from decisions on the siting of nuclear power stations.

 

Q71 Chairman: I'd like to ask some questions on engagement. I know that a series of public meetings have been organised in the region, but are you content that the local community is effectively engaged and involved in the consultation process?

Fergus McMorrow: I am content that it has been, yes. I haven't seen too many issues raised about the opportunity to engage or express views. I think that those opportunities have been available to local people and have certainly been taken.

David Hayes: Looking at nuclear power, we were very impressed by the Government's handling of the local consultations around the Sellafield, Braystones and Kirksanton sites, all of which were well publicised by Government and attracted a lot of interest. Personally, I think that the DECC officials who came to those consultations answered questions very fully and openly and gave a good account of themselves.

Richard Leafe: I think that it is slightly more difficult for the communities of the national park and wider Cumbria to feel as though they are really engaged in a consultation on this. There are still quite a lot of people who simply don't know what is going on, what is proposed or how they get involved and make their voice heard. Certainly the worst-case scenario, if you like, of three nuclear power stations has an impact on Cumbria beyond the immediate area of the west coast.

 

Q72 Chairman: As many as three nuclear power stations will involve quite a lot of planning resources. It really is a huge change in the present infrastructure to deliver a proper planning regime. Are you satisfied that the planning resources are there or will be there?

Fergus McMorrow: I am not, and I think that they need to be there. I have to say that my authority has made representations on this. We are concerned, as I mentioned before, that the success of the development will hinge on how well it is delivered locally and whether the impacts are dealt with properly. I have concerns that local authorities, representing their communities, need to be fully resourced to engage in that detailed process, to do the right kind of studies-the right kind of work-and to feed into the IPC. I do not see that the resources are there at the moment.

I know that there are proposals, in terms of private sector operators engaging in planning performance agreements to help fund the process. That is voluntary at the moment, and it is only going up to a certain point in the process, when decisions are taken, but monitoring the implementation of those decisions is important, too. It doesn't necessarily deal with the much wider issues of the kind of strategic reviews necessary to ensure that we have the right context available. It is much more project-focused. I think that in your last discussion there were a lot of strategic issues raised about the impacts of development. There is a lot of work to do if we are going to get it right locally, and I think that local authorities need to be resourced to do that. At the moment, I cannot see where that resource is coming from.

David Hayes: We have raised this issue with Ministers through the so-called West Cumbria Strategic Forum, and we believe that the Department for Communities and Local Government must give more focus to this. In their evidence to the House of Commons Select Committee on Energy and Climate Change, both the IPC and the Local Government Association requested that Government provide more resources on this.

We believe it is a new and important process that will require more consultation, particularly with local communities, in the pre-application phase. We believe that the Government are scoring an own goal by not providing the right resources, because they want to deliver these projects and want timely decisions on them. It seems to us that by not equipping local authorities with the right resources to handle those proposals, they are shooting themselves in the foot.

 

Q73 Mr. Martlew: Mr. Leafe made a comment about the wider implications of having three nuclear power stations on the west coast. I am old enough to remember the Windscale fire, and I worked in the food industry during Chernobyl. To be honest, gentlemen, as I just said, my major industry is food processing, and if there's anything like a minor incident at Sellafield or the new nuclear power stations, the food industry in my constituency will come to a standstill.

Don't you think that we should be consulted on a wider area than just yourselves, as it will have that impact? It will have a major impact on the agriculture industry, because nobody will buy. As we know, there are still parts of the fells on the west coast where you can't bring your sheep down and sell them because of Chernobyl. Don't you think you're being a bit narrow in your views about this?

David Hayes: I think you're right that the cumulative impact of the development of three new nuclear power stations in the same time frame is an issue that needs serious consideration. The Government have said that as part of their work on the national policy statements they would need to give that consideration. It's obviously an issue not just in terms of health and safety, but in terms of whether the infrastructure is sufficient.

 

Q74 Mr. Martlew: But I am mainly concerned about health and safety.

David Hayes: The view we've taken generally now is that we believe only the Sellafield site is fully capable of deployment by 2025, now that RW has given up its grid connection agreement for Kirksanton and Braystones. We believe that is probably the only one of the three Cumbria sites now likely to be developed by 2025. As Fergus was saying earlier, we believe that through the co-operation of the Sellafield site with the existing emergency planning arrangements, and the co-operation between that site and the Iberdrola consortium, sufficient health and safety standards will be put in place through the regulatory standards.

Fergus McMorrow: Can I just make a clarification? It's not Copeland borough council's view that the three sites shouldn't remain in the national policy statement, and it's not the borough council's view that they couldn't be developed within the time period. Our view is that we support all three sites remaining in.

We think that the Sellafield site is the best site, but we think that there is not sufficient information to allow the sites at this point in time, because there's a lot of work to be done on deliverability and on the impacts. It's very important to the community that there is new nuclear power development in the area. At this point, the borough council would certainly want to keep those options open until there's more clarity about the details of how the sites would be developed.

 

Q75 Mr. Martlew: I'm confused, and it's probably my own fault, because I probably haven't been following. Will the planning process for this be a matter for the Infrastructure Planning Commission, the county council or yourselves?

Fergus McMorrow: It will be the Infrastructure Planning Commission that makes the decision, but the expectation will be that a lot of the detailed planning work will be resolved between the developer and the local authority before the application-

 

Q76 Mr. Martlew: Which local authority?

Fergus McMorrow: Copeland borough council.

 

Q77 Mr. Martlew: Will it be the county, or Copeland?

Fergus McMorrow: We will work with Cumbria county council. We're working together on this already because the implications are wide. We are involving other local authorities in discussions, but at this stage there isn't much real, hard information to get to grips with. But we recognise that there are wide implications and we need to involve a wide range of local authorities in the issues as we move forward and as things unfold.

 

Q78 Chairman: Thank you. One final question from me: the economic benefits to the region are obvious, but what about the argument that it would be preferable if the region didn't depend so much on nuclear, and that this proliferates it? Expansion of the nuclear industry just makes it worse, and puts off the evil day when the region will have to find something else to do.

Fergus McMorrow: I think Copeland borough council would say that we prefer not to depend so much on the nuclear industry, but given the very heavy dependence and the rapid changes in front of the area, the greatest opportunity for offsetting some of those job losses will be in the nuclear industry. We want to develop other sectors as well, including other renewables sectors, tourism and so on, but we recognise that the base we are working from and the contribution that those sectors will be able to make to offset the impacts we face are very small compared with the potential contribution that the proposed developments can make.

David Hayes: What we would like to do is to develop a genuine low-carbon economy. It is absolutely right that the nuclear industry will provide the basis for that, and there are huge opportunities to diversify within nuclear, but we would also like to diversify away from nuclear. A range of projects is being pursued at the moment, including a number of offshore wind farms, such as those off the Solway firth and at Walney island near Barrow. Last week, there was an announcement of a brand new £600 million investment in gas storage facilities off the Barrow coast, and there is the major British Aerospace submarine facility down at Barrow. We are not entirely locked into the nuclear industry, but it will provide the basis, and we would like to diversify away from that.

Fergus McMorrow: I just want to make the point that the investment that could come on the back of the nuclear industry could facilitate other sectors. For example, investment in infrastructure will improve access for tourism, and grid infrastructure will create capacity for renewables, so having a spine of nuclear development will allow further diversification in future potential.

Richard Leafe: I reinforce the points about tourism, which is a £1.3 billion annual business in Cumbria and the national park, with some 35,000 jobs dependent on it, so it is significant economically.

Renewable energy is, for me, the Yin to the Yang of the nuclear side of things, and Cumbria has huge opportunities. We certainly have an ambition for the national park to be a low-carbon exemplar of how society can exist, do business, and look after visitors, and we want to move people around the park in a low-carbon way. Facilitating this development, as well as some other larger-scale renewable initiatives in Cumbria, is also an important part for us of diversifying that economic base.

 

Q79 Mr. Martlew: I am a bit surprised. You are not suggesting that we put wind turbines in the national park, are you?

Richard Leafe: I am, but small ones.

 

Q80 Mr. Martlew: To be honest, I find the idea of you objecting to looking out from the fells to the nuclear power station but having rows and rows of wind turbines on some of the fells difficult to accept.

Richard Leafe: I wouldn't go as far as to say that there should be rows and rows of commercial-scale wind farms on the fells. I am thinking of small-scale, almost farm-scale.

Mr. Martlew: Ones that don't contribute a lot to the grid.

Richard Leafe: No, but ones that do contribute to making those communities in the remoter areas of the national parks that are already off-grid more sustainable in the future. Then they would not be dependent on oil, which will run out or go up at some point in the future.

 

Q81 Mr. Martlew: The majority of my constituents would not be at ease with the idea of putting wind turbines in the national park, to be honest.

Richard Leafe: I think there is a difference between large-scale industrial wind farms, and small-scale micro-renewable, which is appropriate in terms of size in the national park.

 

Q82 Mr. Martlew: Is this the policy of the board?

Richard Leafe: It is indeed, yes. Of course, there is an existing special planning document on wind for Cumbria as a whole that recommends for larger schemes that protected landscapes-the national parks and the areas of outstanding natural beauty-are avoided, as well as the immediate views within and without. However, Cumbria has a large proportion of the wind resource, and we need renewable energy, so we have to take a few risks around the boundaries of those protected areas with that kind of infrastructure to get the carbon benefits that we seek.

Chairman: Thank you for that. Thanks again for the evidence that you've given and the contribution that you've made. We're most grateful. I'm not sure that we will have the time to include this in our report if the election comes too early, but we will do our very best.

Richard Leafe: Thank you.

 

Examination of Witnesses

Witnesses: Martin Forwood, CORE (Cumbrians Opposed to a Radioactive Environment) and Councillor Ralph Pryke, Nuclear Free Local Authorities England Forum, gave evidence.

 

Q83 Chairman: Good afternoon and welcome. May I begin by asking you to introduce yourselves?

Martin Forwood: My name is Martin Forwood and I am the campaign co-ordinator for Cumbrians Opposed to a Radioactive Environment, a local environmental pressure group in Cumbria.

Ralph Pryke: My name is Ralph Pryke. I am a councillor at Leeds city council and the chairman of the English forum of Nuclear Free Local Authorities, which covers England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland.

 

Q84 Chairman: I am going to begin by asking some questions about jobs. Other witnesses have suggested that, unless the Government make a clear commitment to nuclear power, the nuclear industry will simply move elsewhere, other facilities at Sellafield will slowly but surely close down and the area will lose further employment. What can you say about that as far as jobs are concerned? I know it is not the only issue, but it is certainly an important one.

Martin Forwood: It is indeed. We are the odd people out, I suppose, in that we object to nuclear power generally across the UK-and worldwide for that matter-for a whole range of well known reasons, one of which is that it is a very dangerous distraction from what actually needs to be done in terms of meeting energy security, abating carbon emissions and so on. We do not see it as the right way to go. Sellafield is an entirely different matter; that clearly has a finite life. It has to be said that there is a very long way ahead in terms of all the decommissioning work that has to be done, but that is a separate issue from nuclear power as we see it.

Ralph Pryke: We would regard the reprocessing that is going on, or that has been tried, as uneconomic but likely to be pursued by the Government in any case, and it could provide employment in Sellafield. Certainly, the storage of waste and the decommissioning of existing power stations would provide employment within the UK even if we stopped nuclear development tomorrow.

We very much question some of the projections on jobs from new nuclear build, as you will have seen from our submission. We have also put in our submission to you that nuclear produces around 75 jobs per year per terawatt-hour of power produced, whereas renewables produce between 900 and 2,400 per year per terawatt-hour. So we very much favour renewable energy over nuclear in terms of job production. That would apply to the North West and to Cumbria in particular.

 

Q85 Chairman: Am I right in assuming that Copeland is not a member of Nuclear Free Local Authorities?

Ralph Pryke: No, it isn't.

 

Q86 Chairman: I didn't expect that it would be. So do you not believe that that should be a decision for them to make from the local authority point of view?

Ralph Pryke: No, because the new nuclear build decision is something for the whole country, particularly, from our aspect, for the Irish local authorities that are our members. There are members of Nuclear Free Local Authorities in the North West region in any case, but the Irish authorities are particularly concerned about the past history of Sellafield, which you will be aware of, and the potential for future leaks and threats to their environment from our nuclear activities in this country.

 

Q87 Chairman: Okay. What about alternative jobs? Mr. Forwood, do you think that tourism and agriculture will cope in Cumbria?

Martin Forwood: There is huge potential for tourism, as we heard from one of the previous panellists. I don't think agriculture can expand much more than it already has. We take the view that, job-wise, the way forward for west Cumbria in particular is that you do not saturate it in nuclear power stations and nuclear facilities. Instead of that, you have a two-pronged attack. The first is to implement the very large potential for renewables.

In fact, Cumbria Vision produced a scoping report in 2008, I think, which showed that if you implemented the renewables-this is across the range of offshore, onshore and so on-by 2020 you could create up to 5,000 jobs. We're hearing about job losses of up to 8,000 from the reprocessing section of Sellafield. Reprocessing is probably going to go on until 2020, and certainly with THORP that is how long it will take it to finish its existing contracts, so you are not into those job losses from Sellafield for another 10 years.

Therefore, we have 10 years in which to, first, launch this renewables programme and, secondly, make a much more concerted effort to attract non-nuclear investment into the area. I suspect that you would do that if potential investors did not see the west coast of Cumbria as being simply the UK's nuclear stage. It is not exactly enticing them to move maybe food production or any other industry into the area. That is not going to happen.

 

Q88 Chairman: I have raised that question with the previous witnesses. You may have heard the question about how reliant Cumbria should become. Is it not the case that it would take a considerable amount of time to wean this part of the world off the nuclear industry?

Martin Forwood: Absolutely. I certainly agree that there would be some lean years ahead, but at least we would be going in the right direction for once. Historically, it is very clear that this dependence on and domination by the nuclear industry for the past 60 years has not produced very much.

We are being told now that we need to re-kick the local economy and re-start this, that and the other, so you have to ask a question. If the industry has been so good, why are we in the position of having to kick-start it all again? There would certainly be hard times ahead if you were to follow our path, which is renewables and non-nuclear investment.

 

Q89 Chairman: So do you see any new sources of employment? Do you have any new suggestions?

Martin Forwood: I haven't. I wouldn't like to try to name either companies or business sectors, but when you look around other parts of the UK that have not been dominated by one nuclear industry, you see that they don't seem to have had that much difficulty in attracting non-nuclear investment, whether that's the motor industry or whatever. Ralph Pryke: Certainly other local authorities around England and Wales have considerable experience in attracting and developing relatively new industries. I think of the North East of England, in particular, shifting emphasis from shipbuilding to wind turbine building. The engineering expertise transferred very well to that industry. The mining industry in south Yorkshire has largely gone, but the region has survived by diversifying.

Chairman: But huge amounts of resources went in to do that, and, I suppose, that is what is required. I am going to ask Tony Lloyd to ask some questions on reprocessing and waste.

 

Q90 Tony Lloyd: My apologies to you, Mr. Forwood and Councillor Pryke, for missing your earlier observations. Obviously, Cumbria already has a significant legacy from the nuclear industry. As we look to the debate around new nuclear facilities, do you feel that the debate about what we do with waste is inextricably bound up with the location of new nuclear facilities?

Martin Forwood: Not particularly, I don't, no. The deep geological facility that is being sought is at this moment specifically for legacy waste-waste that we have already produced. A lot of people are having some difficulty now in reconciling that point with the Government's statement that waste from new build will go down the same big hole as the legacy waste. In fact, I understand that the Infrastructure Planning Commission is not even going to have to consider waste because the Government believe that there will be effective arrangements already in place. There are two different things: the legacy waste and the waste from new build.

Q91 Tony Lloyd: Can you just expand a little and tell us why it is not common sense that we should treat the two the same?

Martin Forwood: As I understand it, the most recent advice, given by the Government's Committee on Radioactive Waste Management, says explicitly that the disposal of waste from a new phase of reactors needs a process separate from the one that we are now travelling down to manage radioactive waste safely. That requires research, but the research hasn't been started or undertaken. In CORWM's eyes, legacy wastes and new-build wastes are still two separate issues.

Ralph Pryke: In addition, Martin is talking about high-level and medium-level waste, which is being stored at the moment and might be buried and not quite forgotten about. Low-level radioactive waste is also a mounting problem because it does not come from just nuclear power generation, but from nuclear medicine as well.

The amounts are growing significantly, and some of the Government's proposals have been met with more than scepticism by local authorities; for example, the proposal to parcel it up around all the incinerators in the country and let the residual radioactivity be dispersed through ash and particulates in the air, falling on all the communities that are downwind of the incinerators. When local communities discover that that is a possibility for their local incinerator, they are not wildly enthusiastic about it.

 

Q92 Tony Lloyd: But almost exactly in that context, is part of the concern that the two of you have that Cumbria is the designated location for our nuclear waste, come what may-that there is an expectation that Cumbria will suffice?

Ralph Pryke: That seems to be the Government's position, but it's not the local authority's preference.

Martin Forwood: Certainly, in that only west Cumbrian local authorities have expressed an interest in it so far. I don't think that any other local authority in the UK has, which I think says something about the type of business this will be.

 

Q93 Tony Lloyd: Historically, it has been the taxpayer who has picked up the tab for the disposal of nuclear waste. As we look to the future, who should take responsibility?

Martin Forwood: Well, if we are talking about a new-build programme, the Government's view is that all costs, including the costs of waste disposal, should be borne by the developer.

 

Q94 Tony Lloyd: I suppose I'm really asking at this point whether you want to put forward a different proposal. That is not meant in a hostile way. We can ask the Government why they feel that way, but what do you feel yourself?

Martin Forwood: I feel that the industry should pay the full costs for waste disposal. There should be no taxpayer help or subsidy at all.

Ralph Pryke: It would also help if people knew just how much nuclear costs. There is, in effect, a nuclear levy on electricity bills at the moment. If that were enunciated a little more widely, people might stop and think about the alternatives more readily.

 

Q95 Tony Lloyd: So the allocation of cost to the nuclear industry would be about transparency of accounting?

Ralph Pryke: Indeed.

 

Q96 Rosie Cooper: I spoke earlier with Mr. McMorrow about community engagement. Could I ask you both whether you believe that local communities have been given an adequate opportunity so far to engage with the process. How do you see that moving on in the future?

Martin Forwood: From a local perspective, it has been pretty poor, quite honestly, particularly in respect of two of the three west Cumbrian sites, Kirksanton and Braystones. The public were invited to comment initially on the developer's plans at very, very short notice. The public meetings that were held by the developers were very poorly arranged. Just one example: the developers helpfully had on their notepaper a 24-hour helpline that was never, ever answered. That was the kind of difficulty that the public had.

Of course, that is now swamped by the huge and complex concentration of public consultations on the national policy statements for the sites and also on the justification for nuclear power. That finished yesterday, I think. The public are bewildered and everyone is suffering from consultation fatigue. A lot of people simply do not know where they are with the whole long-running programme. This has been going on now for several years, with one consultation after another, all more or less on the same thing.

Ralph Pryke: We were just getting over CORWM 1 when CORWM 2 came along, and then we were into justifications and the national policy statement itself. As Martin says, it is not quite death by consultation, but the documents presented by the Government have been fairly technical. For example, the questions asked for the consultation were equally technical and not very straightforward for members of the public to engage with at all.

I suspect that there has been more and better consultation in the areas of proposed new nuclear power stations than elsewhere, because there has been very little in the national media about these things, which is where most people get their information and what they engage with. Unless the man in the street checks the website and downloads the response documents, he will not engage with it, because the industry has not gone out to Leeds, for example, to ask people there what they think about it. The consultation has not been entirely brilliant.

Martin Forwood: May I make a distinction? We have had one public consultation meeting per site by DECC. Those were infinitely better than the ones organised by the potential developers but even they had their shortcomings. Some of the events were not as long as they could be. There were many people who never got their questions in, let alone answered. DECC was certainly more open with people than the developers were in the earlier public meetings.

Ralph Pryke: In addition, local authorities are not at all keen on the Infrastructure Planning Commission, because they see it as taking powers away from local authorities and elected representatives, who are answerable to their electors. I read in a newspaper today that local authorities around the proposed developments at Bradwell and Oldbury are opposed to the sites for various reasons and have made them known in the consultation that ended yesterday. I realise that your findings will come a bit further down the line, but I very much hope that the Government will be able to take your view into account when making those decisions.

 

Q97 Rosie Cooper: Mr. Forwood, I was going to ask you to give us more examples of poor arrangements. Is there anything else you would like to say about the consultation?

Martin Forwood: Can we please have no more of them-I'm tired of them. They just need better organisation. The information given to the public needs to be in a very simple form for all of us, not just people who are involved in this every day of their lives. There was a huge number of people at one public meeting I went to on the Kirksanton site who were quite bewildered by what was being presented to them.

It all needs to be simplified in some way. Some people find the websites very difficult to use, in terms of consultation exercises and documents. As a small example, at the Kirksanton site the developers sent out in advance of their meeting a handful of letters-37 or 67, I don't remember-to a population of several hundred. It was just not done properly.

 

Q98 Mr. Martlew: Gentlemen, I respect your views and understand that you are anti-nuclear, so it doesn't really matter what the consultation is going to be, because you will be opposed to it, as that is what you believe. I don't think there's anything wrong with that. You are also against the building of nuclear submarines in Barrow, aren't you? I used to be on the county council, so I know the organisation CORE very well. You are against the building of nuclear power stations.

Martin Forwood: I think CORE would certainly be against nuclear submarines, but that has never been part of our campaign as such.

 

Q99 Mr. Martlew: What I'm saying is that we have two gentlemen who oppose new nuclear power, and both of you oppose THORP.

Martin Forwood: Yes.

 

Q100 Mr. Martlew: I understand that. So what we're really talking about is a policy that would depopulate west Cumbria and would certainly create deprivation that would probably kill more people than nuclear power ever has. That is the reality of what you're about.

Ralph Pryke: Mr Martlew, I am sure your memory goes back to the '80s, when the Lucas Aerospace workers produced a very credible alternative to the British military nuclear option and said that we didn't have to have nuclear weapons in this country. If we are serious-particularly this year, when the nuclear non-proliferation treaty is being renegotiated-about non-proliferation, we should not be renewing our nukes.

 

Q101 Mr. Martlew: I am not disputing your beliefs at all. What I am saying is that the consequences of the policies you are pursuing will bring depopulation and deprivation to west Cumbria. If you look at the area, the highest-paid district council area in the county is Copeland and the second is Barrow. The poorest is the one that relies on tourism. That would be the effect of getting rid of nuclear power on the west coast, would it not?

Martin Forwood: I wouldn't agree at all. I cannot see where this depopulation is going to come from simply by not having a programme of new reactors in west Cumbria.

 

Q102 Mr. Martlew: You wouldn't build nuclear submarines in Barrow, you wouldn't build the new nuclear power station and you oppose THORP, so where would the work be?

Martin Forwood: The work is at Sellafield. It is already going on with THORP, which should never have gone ahead in the first place. We know those jobs are probably safe until almost 2020, and perhaps even up to 2020, given how the plant is operating at the moment. Even with no new build, you have Sellafield operations going on, rightly or wrongly, until 2020. That will not affect the population and there will not be a massive exodus. Where's that going to come from, particularly if you implement now, in the time you have available, all these renewable technologies and attract non-nuclear investment? The only way to attract non-nuclear investment is to show that you are not expanding the nuclear industry, which is a put-off.

 

Q103 Mr. Martlew: Can we go back? Sorry, Chair, but I have listened for a long time. The reason why the nuclear industry is in west Cumbria is that it was a military establishment. It was there because it was remote. It is still remote and it will not get the industries that the North East will get. I don't accept that people will move in with other industries if you take the nuclear industry out.

Martin Forwood: I still don't accept that. I think back to the evidence given to the Nirex inquiry in 1996 by a Copeland council planning officer who cited evidence of would-be non-nuclear investors being turned off coming to west Cumbria because of Sellafield's presence. There are people out there who would probably quite like to come. I suspect they would almost certainly come because of all the benefits that Cumbria would have to offer if the industry was not seen to be in the ascendency and in an expansionary mode. As it is, that is not going to happen.

Ralph Pryke: Submarines are not my field of expertise, I admit, but I believe that Barrow is in competition with Plymouth at the moment for the decommissioning of nuclear submarines. I cannot guess how that will be sorted out by Government, but we have to get rid of these things as well and that will take time and expertise.

 

Q104 Chairman: Thank you. We've got a few more minutes. Do you have anything you would particularly like to say that we haven't raised with you?

Ralph Pryke: I came in part-way through the last-but-one session and am not quite sure what else you heard today. We are particularly concerned about the exaggeration of potential employment from new nuclear build. I heard Copeland borough council say 5,000 jobs, and thought I heard it say local jobs. We would very much question whether they would be local jobs, because the experience of nuclear new build-in Finland in particular, but also in respect of power station and refinery construction at, say, Staythorpe in Nottinghamshire and North Killingholme in Humberside-indicates that the contracting companies have to go through the Official Journal of the European Union to secure the contracts for employment. They look for sources and skilled labour all around the EU.

In Newark in particular, RWE, which, of course, is also engaged in nuclear activities, has brought in largely non-British skilled workers to work there. You will be aware of the quasi-industrial dispute in North Killingholme last year and this year at the Total refinery, where Italians and Portuguese have most of the construction jobs.

In Finland, I understand that many of the less skilled jobs have gone to Lithuanians and Poles who fly in on a Sunday night and fly out on a Friday night, and that not many jobs have gone to Finns. Last Sunday, I heard the parliamentary candidate for Ynys Môn claim that we must have Wylfa because it will give us 5,000 local construction jobs. There has been a lot of exaggeration of the potential for job creation in the construction of new nuclear power in this country.

Martin Forwood: Could I just add a couple of points, one of which is a follow-up to that? The developer of two of the west Cumbrian sites-the German company RWE-is on record as saying that one third of construction workers would be from German sources. The other point I would like to make is that you asked Copeland, I think, about what kind of support there had been at these meetings for the new build programme. I did not attend it, but I am absolutely sure that the one relating to the land adjacent to Sellafield was, I believe, very supportive. The two other sites-Kirksanton and Braystones-are greenfield sites, and the opposition hugely outnumbered any support that there was for new build on the two sites.

 

Q105 Chairman: What kind of attendance was there at these meetings?

Martin Forwood: I would think we are probably talking 300 or something like that. We don't have huge facilities in some of those places, but the huge majority were absolutely opposed to it. A lot of these people are not anti-nuclear. They would like to see a power station at Sellafield-I differ with them on that-but they simply see it as a highly unsuitable greenfield site that is not currently licensed, is a long way away from where the electricity is needed and does not have the necessary transmission infrastructure currently in place.

 

Q106 Tony Lloyd: But that was site-specific opposition?

Martin Forwood: Yes, indeed.

Ralph Pryke: You may have seen from our submission that the former Minister, John Hutton, who has more than a local connection to Cumbria, had estimated to a Unite conference in March 2008 that new nuclear would provide 100,000 new skilled jobs. That would need a new nuclear industry twice as big as the Government are proposing at the moment. Experience from the reactor being built in Finland at the moment is that it is giving only between 200 and 3,000 jobs at very peak times during the construction of that reactor. So it does look as if some of the exaggerations are wildly out of phase with reality.

 

Q107 Chairman: Okay. You made that point in your written submission, didn't you?

Ralph Pryke: It is in ours, yes.

Chairman: Well, thank you very much for your evidence, the contributions you have made and the effort you have taken in coming today.