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Institution Of Mechanical Engineers: Protect Nuclear Industry Post-Brexit

The UK’s nuclear industry could be safeguarded from the effects of a hard Brexit with the development and commercialisation of small modular reactors, the Institution of Mechanical Engineers has claimed.

In its recently published report entitled Leaving the EU, the Euratom Treaty Part 2: A Framework for the Future, the organisation puts forward a number of potential ways in which the UK can continue protect its nuclear future after leaving the European Union.

At present, the UK is allied with other European countries under the Euratom Treaty and contributes to multi-million pound projects in research and development. With Brexit in sight, however, doubts are being cast over the country’s ability to sustain these levels of activity without the necessary cooperation and funding from overseas.

Developing small modular reactors would be an opportunity to protect the future of nuclear research and development in the UK, the report suggests.

Jenifer Baxter, head of energy and environment at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, said that the UK was the first country to develop a civil nuclear programme but has since fallen behind nations like China and France.

“Pushing ahead on the demonstration and commercialisation of small modular reactors would be a key way for the UK to once again become a world leader in the field,” she continued, adding that leaving the EU presented a golden opportunity for reinvention.

Earlier this month, the government received warnings from industry bodies, MPs and peers about the effects of exiting the Euratom Treaty, with the Nuclear Industry Association calling for alternatives to be implemented to avoid disruption to the industry.

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