Is Nuclear Energy Coming To Gloucestershire?

By Ian Mean

Business West Gloucestershire Director

Confidential talks are now moving at pace to site some of the first new nuclear Small Modular Reactors, or SMRs, to Gloucestershire with Rolls-Royce SMR in a strong position to develop this new technology.

South Gloucestershire and Stroud College are at the centre of the development as they progress the sale of their Gloucestershire Business and Science Park at Berkeley Green to the Chiltern Vital Group (CVG).

Chiltern are leading negotiations which are in the final stage of due diligence for the 38-acre site at Berkeley for a sale figure of up to £10 million.

The government backed Great British Nuclear organisation (GBN) have bought the Oldbury and Wylfa sites from Hitachi for £160 million. I believe that the Oldbury/Berkeley sites could house several SMR’s, if required.

The purchase of Oldbury indicates SMR’s will be coming to Gloucestershire and this will herald the start of an exciting new chapter in Gloucestershire’s heritage of nuclear energy.

It will of course need specialist training facilities, possibly at Berkeley, to allow SGS College and the University of Bristol to meet the skills training demand for the construction of, and ultimately, the operation of the new SMRs.

Kevin Hamblin, CEO of SGS, told me; “The future is very exciting for Gloucestershire as not only will the site develop the next generation of nuclear reactors, it will be the centre of the training of staff who will work on the building and operation, of the technology”.

SGS will be the primary provider training for the workforce to build and operate these SMR’s. SGS will retain a presence at Berkeley Green, where hundreds of young students already study engineering and digital.

Last week, I had the pleasure of meeting the boss of Industria EU, the Polish development agency who visited Berkeley to discuss how our local expertise can train the next generation of nuclear technicians.

The Polish government have now given the go-ahead for applications to build, own and operate the first two Rolls-Royce SMRs in Poland.

We now need the next British government to step up and ensure that the SMR programme is delivered, and we will wait to see if Rolls-Royce officially win the competition to develop the SMRs in the UK—against the international competition.