Rosatom in talks to participate in UK nuclear programme

A top official at the Department of Energy and Climate Change has confirmed that Russian-state owned Rosatom is in talks with the UK government over intentions to build a nuclear power plant in the UK.

Hergen Haye, head of new nuclear development at the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), told students at Edinburgh University in Scotland that active discussions were taking place in London after a memorandum of understanding had been signed with Russia. "I can tell you that, behind closed doors and with microphones switched off, there are interesting debates happening in Whitehall," he said. "Russia wants to build a nuclear power station in the UK."
Rosatom
Haye chairs a UK-Russian working group on nuclear power, and was in Russia recently for discussions. Haye regards the Russian VVER reactor proposed for the UK as "perfectly safe", but he cautioned that there would be problems convincing the public that a deal with Russia was acceptable, especially given the current crisis in the Crimea. "It's a long road, a very long road," he said.

He offered his personal view that a Russian nuclear station in the UK may be "a bridge too far – at least for the next ten years." But he stressed that it wasn't his decision to make.

A memorandum of understanding between DECC and the Russian state nuclear corporation, Rosatom, was signed in September 2013. It agreed a programme of co-operation "designed to be the most effective means of enabling Rosatom to prepare for entry into the United Kingdom civil nuclear market."

The plan was to give Rosatom access to the UK government's watchdogs, the Office for Nuclear Regulation and the Environment Agency, so that it could understand British regulatory and licencing requirements.

A DECC spokesperson said: "Last year Russia and the UK committed to working towards greater co-operation in the field of civil nuclear. It is to be expected that government staff will have discussions about how that might develop. Any new nuclear plants will need to meet stringent UK regulations enforced by independent regulators."

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