The Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee of MPs has warned that the Government has left the UK nuclear industry at risk and must act urgently to ensure its continued operation post-Brexit.
The report also recommends maintaining access to the EU Internal Energy Market and retaining membership of the Emissions Trading System until 2020 at least.
Longer term, MPs are concerned that the UK will become a ‘rule taker’, complying with but unable to influence European rules and standards. The report also cautions that Brexit must not distract Government from delivering essential climate change policies.
Iain Wright MP, Chairman of the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee, said (in a statement rushed out as the British parliament was dissolved last week): “In the short term, the Government should seek to avoid disruption the energy sector and domestic climate change agenda. Government needs to provide as much clarity and stability as possible to support investment and avoid damaging UK competitiveness and adversely affecting consumers.
“In the long term, the UK must maintain standards and seek to retain our influence.
“If UK standards diverge too far from those in the EU, the UK could become a dumping ground for energy inefficient products. We urge the government to mirror or retain European standards for the immediate future at least.
“Also, the UK should seek to maintain ongoing access to the Internal Energy Market, with no accompanying tariffs or barriers to trade,
“This should include continued participation in trading arrangements established by the European Network Codes to ensure efficient use of interconnectors.
“Meanwhile, the impact of Brexit on Euratom has not been thought through. The government has failed to consider the potentially disastrous ramifications of its Brexit objectives for the nuclear industry. Ministers must act as urgently as possible. The repercussions of failing to do so are huge. The continued operations of the UK nuclear industry are at risk.
“The Prime Minister has made it politically unfeasible to remain in Euratom long term. The Government now has a responsibility to end the uncertainty hanging over the industry and ensure robust and stable arrangements to protect trade, boost research and development, and ensure safeguarding of the highest level.”
The Government said that the UK must leave Euratom as a result of the triggering of Article 50, but the MPs’ report states that legal opinion is divided. The Committee says withdrawal from Euratom is an unfortunate, and perhaps unforeseen, consequence of Prime Minister’s objective of ending the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice in the UK.