Peers accuse government of 'lack of urgency' over development of small-scale nuclear reactors

The government has failed to keep to its own timetable for the development of small nuclear reactors which could be used to bolster Britain's energy supply, a House of Lords committee has said.

Lords: peers critical over government's speed of developing small nuclear technology
Lords: peers critical over government's speed of developing small nuclear technology

In the 2015 Spending Review, the government announced a competition to encourage research into small modular reactors (SMRs).

A £250 million research and development programme would include a competition to "identify the best value small modular reactor design for the UK", the Spending Review document said.

But the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee’s report, Nuclear research and technology: Breaking the cycle of indecision, says that the government has failed to progress the competition.

"We are disappointed that the government launched a competition for SMRs and has not kept to its stated timetable", the report said.

It added that it was "particularly alarming that the results of Phase One of the competition, which does not involve the selection of an SMR design, have yet to be announced by the government".

The report says that the committee’s investigations "did not detect any urgency from the government to make a decision on the SMR competition" and urges it to "publish its strategy for SMRs without delay if industrial interest is to be maintained and if commercial opportunities are not to be missed".

"We have reached a critical moment for the future of the United Kingdom as a serious nuclear power strategically positioned to capture coming opportunities", the report said.

The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy has been asked for comment.

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