Peter Aldous backs the Nuclear Energy (Financing) Bill to enable construction of Sizewell C in Suffolk which will improve energy security, increase low-carbon energy production, and bring enduring jobs and prosperity to local people. This is an opportunity to leave an enduring legacy of knowledge, skills and infrastructure which in the long term, can make Lowestoft and Waveney an attractive location in which to set up and grow a business.
I am pleased to speak in support of this Bill, which facilitates the provision of a secure energy supply, will ultimately keep down consumers’ bills, and is crucial to achieving our net zero obligations. Specifically, along with the announcement in last week’s Budget, the Bill paves the way for the construction of Sizewell C in Suffolk, which can bring enormous benefits to the county, to the Waveney area and to Lowestoft.
We need new nuclear, as it provides energy security. It is the only proven technology that can supply low-carbon baseload at scale. It complements, rather than competes with, the growth of renewables—in particular, in an East Anglian context, offshore wind. It also promotes the development of other clean technologies, such as hydrogen, which is planned at Sizewell, direct air capture and, in due course, small modular reactors.
The funding mechanism presented in the Bill is the regulated asset base model, which, with the right safeguards, has the advantage of driving down the cost of capital for such large infrastructure projects, acts as a catalyst for private sector investment and, according to Government analysis, can lead to savings to consumers of at least £30 billion.
Along with offshore wind, Sizewell C can bring great benefits to the local Suffolk and East Anglian economy. It is estimated that during the 12-year construction period, £2 billion will be put into the Suffolk economy. During that period, there will be three apprenticeship cycles and 1,500 apprenticeships can be created. This is an opportunity to leave an enduring legacy of knowledge, skills and infrastructure which in the long term, once construction has been completed and Sizewell C is operational, can make Lowestoft and Waveney an attractive location in which to set up and grow a business.
There is much work to do, but a good start has been made, with Sizewell C and East Coast College signing a memorandum of understanding to deliver the skills needed for this and other major projects in the area. It includes support for a civil engineering campus at Lound, to the north of Lowestoft; engagement with the Energy Skills Centre in Lowestoft itself; and collaboration on welding and fabrication capacity and capabilities.
The Bill and the hive of activity over the past 10 days are extremely welcome, although some might say 20 years too late. Subject to the development consent order being approved, let us get on with it and, in doing so, enhance our energy security, help to propel us along the road to net zero, and bring enduring jobs and prosperity to local people in Suffolk and in my constituency.