Springfields nuclear fuels

For recent updates and news, please see the below links:

18/07/2023: https://www.markmenzies.org.uk/news/fylde-mp-says-great-british-nuclear…


July 2023:

Fylde has a long and proud history supporting the UK nuclear sector with the highly-skilled work of manufacturing fuels taking place at Springfields near Salwick.

There are many skilled and dedicated people working on the Springfields site. I want to ensure those jobs and unique talents are retained and we build on the work which has been carried out at Springfields for decades, supporting UK energy security for years to come.

Springfields not just a nuclear fuel manufacturing plant - it is the United Kingdom’s only nuclear fuel manufacturing plant, so by any definition that makes it a key UK strategic asset. Over 800 people are employed directly with the wider supply chain employing countless thousands more. The Government estimates indicate that fuel fabrication facilities in the north-west support over 4,000 direct and indirect jobs.

Among these employees, roughly a third of those who work on site began their career as apprentices, jumping at the chance of what were jobs for life, as 2,000 people have done since apprenticeship schemes started at Springfields 71 years ago. 

It is clear to me that nuclear power will be a key element in the UKs transition to a net-zero economy. It's clean and it's green and alongside renewables new nuclear is a big part of our future. As we look to build towards that low-carbon future, with the backdrop of an ever more uncertain world, we must also strengthen our energy security. Sovereign manufacturing capability must be at the heart of that. It is simply inconceivable that in the thriving nuclear industry of the future, we may be reliant on overseas markets for the core parts of our reactor supply chain.

But with legacy nuclear plants closing down as they reach the end of their lives we need to ensure there is work for Springfields in the near future. In the short term, to cope with the drop-off in demand, Springfields needs to continue to find sources of income to support continued work and employment. I am pleased to have worked constructively with unions Unite and Prospect who have engaged on a cross-party basis to represent the interests of their workforce. The site’s unique selling point is its ability to produce nuclear fuel, and that must be protected.

In September 2021 I called a debate in Parliament on this important issue and secured vital assurances from Ministers who stated the strategic importance of maintaining our sovereign fuel manufacturing capability and recognised the importance of maintaining and developing the skilled workforce, which will be critical to delivering our net zero ambitions.

I am glad that the Government shares this vision and has stepped up to meet this challenge, announcing a £120 million Future Nuclear Enabling Fund (FNEF) to investigate new opportunities and support the nuclear industry’s growth. It was confirmed in July 2023 that the Fund will see Springfields benefit from grants worth a total of £11 million via the NFF, with match funding taking total investment to £22 million of public-private money to ensure the site is ready to fuel the next generation of reactors.

After nearly three decades of inaction, there is at last a growing momentum in Government around nuclear power. The Government recently launched Great British Nuclear, has confirmed investment in Sizewell C and is looking at options for further projects at Wylfa in Anglesey and Moorside in Cumbria. Great British Nuclear and the NFEF are also supporting efforts to develop the next generation of nuclear technologies, such as Small Modular Reactors, which have the potential to make it easier and cheaper than ever before to construct new nuclear projects.

This is all part of the Government’s aim to make nuclear power a central strand, alongside wind, solar and other low carbon energy sources, in our drive to net zero. Nuclear power currently generates 6.5 GW of energy each year, with the Government aiming to increase generation to 24GW by 2050, meeting 25% of the UK’s energy needs.

The next challenge is to see that Springfields and its workforce play their part in this green energy future and are trusted to produce the fuel for our future fleet of nuclear reactors, be they large-scale gigawatt projects or small-modular reactors.

Workers at Springfields continue to have my backing and, with Government and private investment now flowing into the site, I am confident that we are in a strong position as we move from the decommissioning of legacy reactors to new nuclear coming online.

I continue to liaise with unions, Government officials and all those who have an interest in Springfields, to press the case for continued investment and innovation that will ensure a successful future for the nuclear industry and its workforce here in Fylde.