For many years I’ve campaigned to secure a long-term future for the nuclear industry in Romney Marsh. There are currently nearly one thousand jobs in the Folkestone and Hythe district which are directly linked to the nuclear industry. It is a major employer that has made a big contribution to our local economy, providing well paid and high skilled jobs. Nuclear energy is also a vital source of clean, low carbon electricity that we will need in even greater quantities in the future.
On Monday 17 July I was delighted to welcome my parliamentary colleague, the Nuclear Energy Minister, Andrew Bowie MP, to Dungeness nuclear power station, along with Cllr Roger Gough, the leader of Kent County Council, and other colleagues from both our county and district councils. We were there to make the case for Dungeness to be part of the government’s programme for new nuclear power stations, and in particular, small and advanced modular reactors. They would be well suited to Dungeness, as they take up less space than the larger gigawatt reactors, of the kind currently being built in Somerset and Suffolk. Dungeness is in many ways one of the best sites in the country for new nuclear power stations as it has existing grid connections and is an area of high energy demand. The Minister was impressed both by what he saw at Dungeness, but also the strong local commitment to the nuclear industry.
On Tuesday 18July I attended the launch of Great British Nuclear, at the Science Museum in London. This new organisation has been created by the government to lead on the delivery of new nuclear power stations across the country. The government has set a target of 24 gigawatts of power to be produced by new nuclear by 2050. The planned new large power stations at Sizewell and Hinkley Point will deliver eight gigawatts, the rest will come from smaller sites, and I want Dungeness to be one of them. At this event I was able to speak with Simon Bowen and Gwen Parry Jones, respectively the Chair and Chief Executive of Great British Nuclear, about Dungeness. Both were well aware of the potential of Dungeness and I look forward to discussing this with them later in the year when the formal consultation on new nuclear sites begins.
On Friday 14 July I was pleased to join my fellow trustees of the Sport Trust in Folkestone, for the opening of the new athletics track at the Three Hills sports park in Cheriton Road. The track has been delivered thanks to funding from the Roger De Haan Charitable Trust, Sport England and the Cheriton Road Sports Ground Trust. The track will be the new home for the Folkestone Running and Athletics Club and completes the state of the art facilities offered for cricket, hockey, netball and basketball, as well as now for athletics. I hope these new facilities will give a real boost to sport in our area, encouraging more people at all levels to participate. Folkestone may well become the training ground for future athletics Olympians.