Prime Minister David Cameron and French President Nicolas Sarkozy signed an agreement to ensure closer collaboration between the two countries to develop civil nuclear energy, which is expected to result in 1,500 UK jobs and commercial deals worth over £500m.
The deal was signed at a summit in Paris.
The government confirmed its commitment to nuclear energy “as part of a diversified energy mix”. The UK and French governments will work with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) “to strengthen international capability to react to nuclear emergencies and establish a joint framework for cooperation and exchanging good practice on civil nuclear security,” according to a statement from Downing Street.
PM David Cameron said: “As two great civil nuclear nations, we will combine our expertise to strengthen industrial partnership, improve nuclear safety and create jobs at home.”
Companies and public bodies from both countries will collaborate in several areas including security, R&D and training.
A list of eight sites that are being considered for the construction of new plants by 2025 was confirmed. They are Hartlepool; Bradwell, Essex; Sellafield, Cumbria; Heysham, Lancashire; Hinkley Point, Somerset; Oldbury, Gloucestershire; Sizewell, Suffolk; and Wylfa, Anglesey.
Rolls-Royce is likely to win a £400m contract to participate in the building of the first of the new power plants. It is expected to open a factory in Rotherham to meet the new orders.
French conglomerate Areva will build the core of the nuclear reactors. “Rolls-Royce will become our prime manufacturing partner to supply some £100m of key critical components of the reactor for each nuclear power plant that’s constructed in the UK,” Robert Davies from Areva UK told the BBC.