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Nuclear Safeguards Bill Quitting Euratom, Defused

March 30, 2018 1:10 PM
Originally published by East Suffolk Liberal Democrats

Government suffers a double defeat over plans to put in place a domestic nuclear safeguards regime after leaving the European Union.

Tory administration accused of "playing Russian roulette" with the UK's energy security by quitting Euratom.


During report stage of the Nuclear Safeguards Bill in the House of Lords, peers backed by 265 votes to 194, majority 71, a call to delay Britain leaving Euratom if no alternative agreements were in place in the run-up to Brexit day.
The government was dealt a second blow over the reporting of future arrangements with the watchdog on nuclear research and development, as well as the import and export of qualifying nuclear material.
The opposition amendment, which had Liberal Democrat and crossbench support, was approved by 244 votes to 194, majority 50.
A series of peers raised concerns over leaving Euratom without having other arrangements in place.
Energy minister Lord Henley said the triggering of the formal proceedings for quitting the EU also started the process for leaving Euratom and insisted it was a "done deal".
He insisted the government was "on track" to secure agreements with Britain's nuclear partners post-Brexit.
But independent crossbencher Lord Broers, former vice chancellor of the University of Cambridge and president of the Royal Academy of Engineering, argued the need "to give us the confidence that these agreements are complete and appropriate and will maintain the highest standards in safeguarding our nuclear power". He said: "Of all the world's complex technologies, nuclear power is surely one where we must maintain collaboration with our partners, especially those in Europe."
Lord Warner, who sits as an independent crossbencher, said: "The issue is the way that the government has been playing Russian roulette with our energy security by the ill-considered and ideological rush to leave Euratom without being sure an equivalent regime is properly in place."

Background

Last year the government was warned that nuclear plants in England, Scotland and Wales could be forced to shut down if transitional arrangements on atomic power are not in place by 2019.
The UK announced its intention to withdraw from the EAEC on 26 January 2017, following on from its decision to withdraw from the European Union. Formal notice to withdraw from the EAEC was provided within the Article 50 notification letter, where the withdrawal was made explicit. Withdrawal will only become effective following negotiations on the terms of the exit.
A report by the House of Commons Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee in May 2017, questioned the legal necessity of leaving Euratom and called for a temporary extension of membership to allow time for new arrangements to be made.
In June 2017, the European Commission's negotiations task force published a Position paper transmitted to EU27 on nuclear materials and safeguard equipment (Euratom) and the following month, a briefing paper from the House of Commons Library assessed the implications of leaving Euratom.
If the UK withdraws, it might raise the question of UK nuclear fuel availability after 2019 and the need for new treaties relating to the transportation of nuclear materials.
UK politicians have speculated that the UK could stay in Euratom. Some argue that this would require - beyond the consent of the EU27 - amendment or revocation of the Article 50 letter of March 2017.
The Nuclear Safeguards Bill 2017-19, making provision for safeguards after withdrawal from Euratom, was presented to Parliament in October 2017 and began its Report Stage in January 2018.

Sizewell B on the Suffolk Coast is the UK's only commercial pressurised water reactor (PWR) power station. Its single reactor was built and commissioned between 1987 and 1995, and first synchronised with the national grid in1995. The power station is operated by EDF Energy. EDF's strategic target is for 20 year life extension for Sizewell B, beyond the current accounting closure date of 2035. Sizewell A, commissioned in 1966 was shut at the end of 2006.

In 2010, the British government announced that Sizewell was one of the eight sites which it considered suitable for future nuclear power stations and have stated that the construction for Sizewell C is dependent on Hinkley C approval. In October 2015, it was reported that Britain and China had reached Strategic Investment Agreements for three nuclear power plants, including one at Sizewell, though no specific financing plans for Sizewell are confrmed. Currently EDF Energy have closed the consultation stage 2 and considering the feedback from over 1000 organisations, councils and individuals. Stage 3 consultation is expected sometime in 2018. EDF has not published a schedule for applying for planning permission. In October 2017, it was announced that the projected completion and first generation date of Sizewell C would be in 2031.

End

ImageA : Hendrik Tammen (Enricopedia)

ImageB: - Countries in membership of Euratom Derived from File:Location European nation states.svg Rob 984

Acknowledgement E&T - Engineering and Technology

https://eandt.theiet.org/content/articles/2018/03/government-s-post-brexit-nuclear-safeguarding-plans-scuppered/