Ian Mean on Rolls Royce and energy costs in Gloucestershire

IT’S rare to have a sit-down conversation with a Government minister and persuade them to listen to the voice of business in Gloucestershire.

That happened to me last week when I attended a business club dinner organised by MP Richard Graham with GFirstLEP chair, Ruth Dooley.

I found business minister, Kevin Hollinrake to be a good listener.

And having developed and run a big estate agents himself, he was very savvy on the issues facing our SMEs-the small and medium size businesses on which the growth of the Gloucestershire economy very much hinges.

I asked him about the prospect of Rolls-Royce bringing their small modular reactor(SMR) power stations to Gloucestershire having had what I understand was a successful visit to look at sites at Berkeley and Oldbury-our two decommissioned former nuclear power stations.

He seemed very supportive, as are all our local MPs ,after we failed to get the new prototype plant which went to Nottingham.

I said that Rolls-Royce were desperate for a green light from government to give the go-ahead for development of the SMR programme.

That call for support was made even more urgent when I read the Telegraph the next day with the new chief executive of Rolls-Royce, Tufan Erginbilgic, urging the Government to start engaging in talks about this mini-nuke programme.

He said: “We need to come to the table and work very seriously and sign an agreement for the deployment of the first project. First mover advantage will be important.”

I agree. Rolls-Royce is competing with many other companies developing these SMRs.

The big advantage is that these mini reactors can be largely factory built and each are the size of something like three football pitches.

And the biggest advantage is that they are faster and cheaper to build than traditional nuclear plants.

Energy, and the huge cost of it, continues to be a major headache for companies in Gloucestershire.

So, government must surely ensure that this innovative programme by one of our major UK companies gets the green light very soon.


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