National Nuclear Laboratory


Wednesday 22 February 2023

NNL at the Nuclear Industry Association’s Nuclear Week in Parliament

Earlier this month, NNL hosted a breakfast briefing at the House of Commons for parliamentarians interested in nuclear science to benefit society.

During the briefing, James Murphy, NNL’s Chief Strategy Officer, and Virginia Crosbie, MP for Anglesey/ Ynys Môn, explained the significance of the event, part of the Nuclear Industry Association’s Nuclear Week in Parliament.

James Murphy:

“The importance of nuclear science to parliamentarians across the country and across the political divide was wholly apparent at our session and in the week-long schedule of activities facilitated by the Nuclear Industry Association (NIA) and others in our sector.

We welcomed a strong cross-section of MPs and Lords, each of whom had their own interests and questions. But they all had one thing in common: an excitement and enthusiasm for the role of nuclear science in creating a better society.

James Murphy (right)

It was clear to me throughout the event that the importance of nuclear science in our country’s future is now front of mind across the political spectrum in ways it hasn’t been for decades. Whether it’s increasing their understanding of the potential of nuclear to be part of the solution in future energy crises and our quest for net zero, or in the breakthroughs we are making in producing globally in-demand radioisotopes for lifesaving health treatments and vital space exploration, it is very encouraging to see the level of interest from parliamentarians.

As the UK’s national laboratory for nuclear fission, the groundbreaking innovation being led by NNL and our partners will tangibly improve the lives, lifestyles and livelihoods not just of the constituents represented by the MPs at our event, but everywhere.

MPs who have constituency interests in the sector have a great understanding of the potential for nuclear and its role in providing well-paid and high-quality green jobs. What is particularly interesting now is the rise in other MPs looking at the potential of nuclear within their area as a resource and asset to the businesses and households in their constituencies.

The UK nuclear sector is already a success story but there is so much more that it can and needs to do. We look forward to continuing the conversations we have begun with parliamentarians looking to either grow nuclear within their own regions or in the development of national policy.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing. And we must ensure that the current political regret that we haven’t invested more in nuclear over the past 30 years is corrected once and for all so that, in the future, we have a stronger, new nuclear solution both for energy and reaching net zero.”

Virginia Crosbie:

“It was a pleasure to welcome colleagues from across the political parties to NNL’s session as part of Nuclear Week in Parliament. This broad spectrum of interest shows the changing face of nuclear and the growing recognition of its immense potential to help secure the UK’s clean and prosperous future.

NNL CEO Paul Howarth Anglesey MP Virginia Crosbie

It is clear that investment in the UK nuclear sector is moving forward at pace, from the government’s commitment to new large-scale nuclear plants to the promise of new small modular reactors. NNL’s session also showcased the value of ongoing science, innovation and technology – with UK teams playing a pioneering role in developing new advanced fuels for next generation reactors, which could take our clean energy ambitions to the next level.

What is particularly interesting, moreover, is that the UK’s long-standing expertise and capabilities in nuclear are not just relevant to the urgent challenge of climate change. There is so much that the UK’s best and brightest scientists are working on – including at our own national laboratory – that we can take great pride and excitement in. Whether it is advancements in life-saving healthcare, or in unlocking space exploration, NNL’s session showcased the tangible opportunities nuclear presents for the UK.

With a strong political consensus around nuclear, now is the time for us to be seizing upon these opportunities in full. It is too easy to say that, in the current economic climate and with the challenges of the global energy market, we should forget our net zero commitments in order to meet the UK’s more pressing needs. But nuclear can do both; it not only helps us keep the lights on now with a secure supply of green electricity, but it could do so much more in the decades ahead. Driving forward nuclear development and delivery will help the UK shore up green growth and jobs, whilst protecting our vital industries and sectors of the economy.

Indeed, the government’s commitment both to securing our future clean energy supply and to delivering ongoing scientific innovation was demonstrated by this week’s machinery of government changes. The creation of two separate departments for these areas of policy and delivery reflects their vital importance to the UK and each will depend on nuclear to achieve their necessary ambitions.

I am very proud of the role my own constituency of Ynys Môn plays in the UK’s nuclear success story to date, but we know there is still much more it can contribute. This proud heritage is something I am determined we can continue to build upon, as well as replicate across the country.”