There's no need to mince words — I strongly advocate for the government to announce the immediate construction of a new nuclear plant in the north of England, preferably in Cumbria. The events of the past year have underscored the critical importance of a reliable and secure energy supply for our country. While a nuclear plant undoubtedly presents an energy opportunity for the region and the nation, it has become increasingly apparent that it will also serve as an economic catalyst for the north.

To that end, I am thrilled to announce the upcoming Northern Nuclear Conference, which will take place in Carlisle on June 30. This conference aims to bring together local businesses, nuclear industry leaders, politicians— including the Minister for Nuclear Power, Andrew Bowie MP—and others to explore the prospects offered by the nuclear sector in the north and make a compelling case for its development.

I'm delighted to have secured sponsorship from esteemed companies such as Tetra Tech, Kingmoor Park, Morgan Sindall Infrastructure, and EDF, with support from Westlakes Research Ltd. Their involvement speaks volumes about the significance of nuclear energy in the county. Following the conference, the University of Central Lancashire will conduct research on nuclear-related topics, specifically focusing on community support and acceptance.

When I was first elected as MP for Carlisle in 2010, I had limited knowledge of nuclear power. However, through my involvement with the Nuclear All-Party Group and my interactions with Sellafield and other Cumbrian businesses, I've received a crash course in waste processing, advanced modular reactors, and various other technologies. The immense role played by the nuclear industry in the northern economy has become abundantly clear. Just observe the thriving businesses in West Cumbria and across the north of England, all contributing to the nuclear supply chain. Manufacturers, service providers, research and development—all these industries have flourished in proximity to the nuclear sector.

Furthermore, many of these spin-off industries have diversified beyond nuclear, becoming global leaders in advanced manufacturing and other crucial fields. The education and training opportunities provided by nuclear energy are equally noteworthy. The industry offers high-quality, well-paid apprenticeships that impart world-class skills.

The north of England boasts a proud history of industrialism and manufacturing, and new nuclear power is vital for continuing this tradition. It will not only power industries across the country but also create jobs, foster skills development, and drive further industrial growth.

The UK government's goal of achieving decarbonisation by 2050 is often misunderstood. Contrary to popular belief, it will likely necessitate an increase in electricity generation, not a decrease. While renewables like solar, wind, and tidal energy will undoubtedly play a role in this transition, we require a baseload carbon-neutral source, and nuclear power fits the bill perfectly.

I hope that this conference will serve as a platform for generating ideas on how the north can reap the benefits of nuclear energy. Moreover, I fervently wish for the conference to galvanize northern voices and send a resounding message to the government: we need nuclear power in the north, and we need it without delay!