Nuclear is in the DNA of Gloucestershire - Ian Mean
By Ian Mean
Gloucestershire has a proud heritage of skills in nuclear energy, and I believe we could become a trailblazer in the government's plans for nuclear. Why do I say this?
Well, the interim chair of the government's new Great British Nuclear organisation has just been looking at our two decommissioned nuclear sites at Berkeley and Oldbury.
It appears he is looking at a short list of six sites for the new mini-power stations, or SMRs as they are called, small medium reactors.
They are each about the size of three football pitches and so much cheaper to build than the large traditional power stations.
Great British Nuclear's Simon Bowen is a big hitter in business terms - he was the boss of Magnox that ran the fleet of nuclear power sites for the government.
He was in Gloucestershire last week at Berkeley and met the Western Gateway Seven Edge team which put together the bid to build a £220 million prototype fusion plant here. We lost out to Nottinghamshire on that project.
But now, I believe that that same Western Gateway team can land one of the big SMR sites for Gloucestershire.
At the heart of our bid to have the SMRs here is that we have a brilliant heritage of nuclear skills going back to the early days of nuclear through the expertise of the old Berkeley Labs employees.
So, nuclear is in the DNA of our county with those skills being passed down through generations and companies like EDF.
If the government chose Rolls Royce to drive the SMR project in Gloucestershire - which I hope they will - it could be that the SMR power plants are built on the Oldbury site with a science and technology centre at Berkeley, all focussed around the existing Berkeley Green University Technical College.
I have always been a supporter of Berkeley Green, run by SGS. It is inspiring to see the students there training to be engineers. Some of them travel up to an hour each way to get there by bus.
This is the sort of determination that breeds true, lasting skills.
And we are going to need hundreds of enthusiastic young people like these at Berkeley learning the skills to make the next big step on the UK's nuclear journey.
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