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Hunterston B Nuclear Power Station

Volume 685: debated on Monday 7 December 2020

The petition of residents of the North Ayrshire & Arran constituency,

Declares that there is an urgent need to support inward investment in North Ayrshire; notes the announcement of the complete cessation of energy production at Hunterston B Nuclear Power Station in January 2022; further notes the £54 million annual contribution the station makes to the North Ayrshire economy; and further declares that, while there is no immediate threat to the jobs of approximately 520 staff and 250 contractors working on the site, action needs to be taken now to ensure the sustainability of the local economy once the defueling of Hunterston B has concluded.

The petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the UK Government to work in partnership with the Scottish Government and North Ayrshire Council to deliver investment in green, clean energy production in North Ayrshire as a matter of urgency.

And the petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Patricia Gibson, Official Report, 9 September 2020; Vol. 679, c. 738 .]


Observations from the Minister for Business, Energy and Clean Growth (Kwasi Kwarteng):

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) is working with EDF Energy (EDF) and the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority to consider how efficient and cost-effective decommissioning of EDF’s stations can be planned for and delivered. This work includes consideration of how the stations will be owned and managed in the future. As the current owner and operator of Hunterston B, EDF is responsible for engaging and consulting its workforce on plans for the closure and then the decommissioning of this site.

On 19 November, the transformational Ayrshire Growth Deal was signed, securing £251 million investment in the region. The deal will galvanise efforts to develop key strategic sites and sectors in Ayrshire. It will help leverage private sector investment of more than £300 million, with the potential of creating up to 7,000 new jobs. The UK Government are investing £103 million into eight projects including regeneration, research and innovation, infrastructure, marine science and aerospace technology. The Scottish Government are also investing £103 million with local partners contributing the rest.

The deal includes up to £18 million for a Centre for Research into Low Carbon Energy and Circular Economy (CECE) at the Hunterston Strategic West Scotland Industrial Hub. Hunterston is a national strategic site and home to Scotland’s largest strategic deep-water port, with direct rail and grid connections. The site has a critical role in Scotland’s Energy, Blue Economy, Offshore Wind and the Circular Economy futures. Partners in the project include: Peel Ports, Scottish Enterprise, Crown Estates, Nuclear Decommissioning Authority.

Both Governments will each invest £3.5 million in the HALO Kilmarnock regeneration project. Work is already well underway to transform the former Johnnie Walker bottling site into a dynamic commercial, educational and advanced training hub, with a focus on sustainability and low carbon energy. Earlier this month HALO announced it would also be participating in the UK Government’s £1 billion kickstart scheme to create 200 cybersecurity job placement opportunities for young people.

The projects represent a tremendous opportunity to improve the well-being of communities and the economy. Signing this deal will allow partners to progress plans to support recovery and renewal post covid-19, and transform Ayrshire into a 21st century powerhouse for growth.

On 17 November, The Prime Minister also set out his ambitious ten-point plan for a green industrial revolution —an innovative and ambitious programme of job creation that will support the Government’s mission to level up across the country. The plan will mobilise £12 billion of Government investment to support up to 250,000 highly-skilled green jobs in the UK, and spur up to three times as much private sector investment by 2030.

Covering clean energy, transport, nature and innovation technologies, this plan will enable the UK to forge ahead of delivering its target of net zero—ending its contribution to climate change by 2050—and building back better.