FRENCH nuclear experts have been to Cumbria to learn from the National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL).

They went to Sellafield as part of a programme funded by the French Government to make sure its industry picks up best practice from around the world.

The experts - from the Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (Commissariat à l’Energie Atomique et aux Energies Alternatives, or CEA), equivalent to the NNL - went to the Cumbrian facility because of its role supporting both the Government and private industry.

Both organisations have cooperated on research and development programmes since 2012.

Charles Potter, director for reactor operations support, who led the visit, said: “It takes a considerable team effort to accommodate visits like this and I’d like to thank everyone who helped make this visit a success. Throughout the tour there were many questions asked about collaborative work.

"We’ve also had some great feedback from the French Embassy in London that the visit was interesting and thought-provoking particularly when the group realised that although NNL is Government-owned, it operates on a fully commercial model with no direct funding from Government. They were also keen to understand how we prioritised our earnings to reinvest in customer and internal research and development."

He added: "We now have the opportunity to build on key areas of research and development collaboration and also work towards a reciprocal visit to the French facilities in the near future”.

The NNL has also signed a memorandum of understanding with Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL), which will see the two organisations collaborate on projects.

Paul Howarth, managing director of the NNL, said: “As the UK steps up its civil nuclear programme, organisations such as the NaNNL must reach out to our international colleagues, such as Canadian Nuclear Laboratories to renew and strengthen our collaboration in the field of nuclear science and technology. We can only benefit from Canada’s world leadership in isotope production and nuclear expertise.”