NUCLEAR industry figures in Copeland have welcomed the UK Government’s focus on High Temperature Gas Reactors.

Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy minister Greg Hands spoke about the march to net zero carbon at the Nuclear Industry Association Conference on December 2.

Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) and Advanced Modular Reactors (AMRS) are seen as the clean method of energy production for the future.

Mr Hands told nuclear industry heavyweights that the UK Government will focus on High Temperature Gas Reactors (HTGRs) as the preferred method of energy production in their Advanced Modular Reactors programme."

Hopes remain high that the Moorside site neighbouring Sellafield will be the home of at least some methods of clean energy production in the future.

Copeland Borough Council's Portfolio Holder for Nuclear and Corporate Services said that the Government's announcement last week is good news for the area as it contains all the skills and means to carry clean energy forward.

Cllr David Moore said: "We have all types of fuels and tech in the Sellafield Ltd supply chain. It's also part of our prospectus that as well as SMRs, we're in for AMRs."

Copeland is in the running for two reactors from EDF Energy - which will replicate the clean energy hub at Hinkley Point, as well as Small Modular Reactors from Rolls Royce.

It was also announced last month that Moorside is shortlisted in the competition to house a prototype nuclear fusion reactor from STEP.

Cllr Moore said that the Government's recent announcement about High Temperature Gas Reactors does not take SMRs off the table.

"These are all Carbon friendly it's just they're using different types of fuels, they're all part of that supply chain. The Government has also committed to £110 million to the SMR programme, so I think all technologies are still in play. I think we'll still see that mix of technologies going forward."

MP for Copeland Trudy Harrison said: "It's very welcome news that Minister Greg Hands has announced at the Nuclear Industry Association Conference that the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy will focus on High Temperature Gas Reactors (HTGRs) as the technology of choice for the Advanced Modular Reactor programme.

"I was fully supportive of this approach during the Call for Evidence process earlier this year and a HTGR would align with the Cumbria Nuclear Prospectus and the vision for the borough as laid out in the Copeland 2040 document."

Mrs Harrison has said that the borough's history means it is well placed to carry these technologies forward.

"The strength of the nuclear industry in Copeland was most recently highlighted by an Oxford Economics Study, which showed that the nuclear industry and its respective supply-chain was responsible for 58.7 per cent of all employment in Copeland, and 59.4 per cent of total GVA (Oxford Economics, 2017). This shows the strength of the industry locally, the supply-chain is diverse and multi-faceted, we are home to expertise across the nuclear sector."

Mrs Harrison hopes that the AMR announcement proves to be positive news for Cumbria's research teams.

She said: "We are also home to many organisations with nuclear expertise, both public, private, and academic. The National Nuclear Laboratory are based in West Cumbria, as are the University of Manchester’s Dalton Facility.

"They use their base in West Cumbria to undertake world-leading research in this sector, again evidence for the pool of talent that we are home to. It makes sense with our nuclear expertise, to co-locate on projects such as a High Temperature Gas Reactor and maximise on the output of this skilled workforce."