Wednesday 23 June 2021
Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Nuclear Power Station Decommissioning
The Government are today entering into a new set of arrangements to deliver safe, lower-cost and more efficient decommissioning of the UK’s operating nuclear power stations, once they stop generating power.
Those nuclear power stations are all owned and operated by EDF, and the new arrangements have been negotiated by the Government to provide significant cost savings for the taxpayer, with the potential to achieve upward of £1 billion of savings without compromising on safety and security. They will also provide the Government with enhanced oversight of the decommissioning costs.
The new commercial arrangements relate to the fleet of seven advanced gas-cooled reactor (AGR) stations—Hunterston B, Hinkley Point B, Dungeness B, Hartlepool, Heysham 1, Heysham 2 and Torness. EDF last year announced the end of generation of Hunterston B and Hinkley Point B in 2022 and recently, Dungeness B with immediate effect. The other four are all scheduled to close on a rolling basis by 2030.
The new arrangements do not relate to the Sizewell B station, which is of a different technology—pressurised water reactor—and is due to continue operating until at least 2035. The new arrangements also do not cover the Hinkley Point C station, which is currently under construction.
Once a nuclear station closes the nuclear fuel from that station must first be removed (defueling) before it can be prepared for deconstruction. Then, following deconstruction, the site can be remediated.
The new arrangements we have negotiated will incentivise EDF to achieve the defueling of the AGR stations in a cost-effective and timely manner and include real risk share. EDF Energy have agreed to up to a total of £100 million in charges for underperformance in return for the potential to earn up to a total £100 million for good performance across the AGR fleet.
Shortly after EDF has completed the defueling activity, and subject to regulatory approval, the ownership of the AGR stations will transfer to the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA), on a station-by-station basis, to prepare for and manage the long-term decommissioning. The NDA will deliver this mission alongside their ongoing mission to decommission the first-generation Magnox nuclear power stations. This will allow the NDA to employ their unique expertise and experience of nuclear decommissioning and seek synergies with their wider mission to achieve savings for the taxpayer.
These new arrangements will harness the best of both organisations: EDF’s in defueling as an extension of its operational activity; NDA’s in decommissioning as the nation’s civil nuclear decommissioning authority—in order to deliver best value for the taxpayer, while maintaining strong regulatory oversight on safety, security, environmental and health matters.
The NDA and EDF will co-operate to help ensure a seamless transfer of the AGR sites and to enable efficiencies and identify and realise cost savings across the AGR decommissioning programme.
Under previous arrangements, EDF was responsible for the full defueling and deconstruction of the AGR stations, using funding provided by the Nuclear Liabilities Fund (NLF), a segregated fund managed by trustees and underwritten by Government. EDF’s AGR defueling and decommissioning work will continue to be funded by the NLF.
To facilitate these revised arrangements, designation directions have been laid in Westminster and jointly with Scottish Ministers in Holyrood—for Scottish stations —which provide the appropriate vires for the NDA to undertake their pre-transfer work and obligations on these stations.
I will deposit the designation directions in the Libraries of the House and further details are available at the www.gov.uk website.
Summits, Conferences or Events: Defence Contribution
A new order has been made under section 56(1 B) of the Reserve Forces Act 1996 to enable reservists to be called into permanent service to support HM Forces in connection with military operations in support of summits, conferences or events.
The Ministry of Defence is regularly tasked to support summits, conferences or events. As part of this support, reserve forces will be on standby, as part of a whole force approach with regular forces, to deliver a range of defence outputs such as, but not limited to, the reinforcement of regular units, provision of specialist knowledge, skills and experience, and support to partners across Government.
The order shall take effect from the day on which it is made and shall cease to have effect 12 months from the date on which it is made.
Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Today, we are announcing our intention to publish a Broadcasting White Paper in the autumn. In order to inform the White Paper, we will consult on the future of Channel 4 and on regulating video-on-demand services.
We believe that the need for public service broadcasting (PSB) remains as strong as ever and it is therefore necessary to bring the UK’s broadcasting framework into the 21st century.
The forthcoming White Paper will look ahead to the challenges of tomorrow, ensuring the UK’s broadcasting system is dynamic, relevant and can continue to meet the needs of UK audiences in the future. This will include proposals on prominence, to ensure that high quality public service content is made easily accessible to UK audiences across online platforms. The White Paper will also be influenced by Ofcom’s ongoing PSB review, the Government’s own strategic PSB review, as well as the recommendations of the Digital Radio and Audio Review which will report this summer.
This summer we will launch a consultation on the future success and sustainability of Channel 4.
Since its inception almost 40 years ago, Channel 4 has delivered on its remit, aims and objectives, and has done an excellent job in managing the uncertainty in the market over recent years.
However, Channel 4’s current ownership model and remit places material restrictions on its ability to keep pace with the challenges posed by the fast-evolving media landscape.
Now is the time to proceed on the basis that an alternative ownership model—but one where it keeps a public service remit—may be better for the broadcaster and better for the country.
We will also launch a consultation on the regulation of video-on-demand services. Services such as Netflix, ITV Hub or Amazon Prime Video provide huge value to UK audiences, and in many cases significant, and growing, contributions to the UK economy. However, they are also services that are regulated far less robustly than traditional broadcast television stations, particularly in relation to the regulation of content standards and audience protection, and some services are not regulated in the UK at all.
So this summer we will consult on whether it is time to set the same basic rules for video-on-demand services as we do for traditional broadcasters.
Condition Improvement Fund
Today, I am announcing the allocation of almost £483 million for 1,466 Condition Improvement Fund (CIF) projects across 1,199 academies, sixth-form colleges and voluntary aided schools to maintain and improve the condition of the education estate.
This funding is provided to ensure schools have well maintained facilities and give students safe environments that support a high-quality education. Many of the projects funded by CIF will lead to more energy efficient buildings and will reduce energy bills for schools. Since March 2015 CIF has delivered 8,018 projects and continues to deliver 1,571 projects across the school estate with essential maintenance projects.
Details of today’s announcement are being sent to all CIF applicants and a list of successful projects will be published on gov.uk. Copies will be placed in the House Library.
Attachments can be viewed online at: Written statements - Written questions, answers and statements - UK Parliament