On Monday this week I attended a meeting of the Cabinet of Kent County Council, at the invitation of the Leader, Cllr Roger Gough, to discuss the future of nuclear power at Dungeness. Along with Kent, and Folkestone and Hythe District Council, I am determined to do all I can to secure the long-term future for the nuclear industry on Romney Marsh. Whilst there are many more years of work at Dungeness in order to defuel and decommission the existing nuclear power plants, I also want to see investment in new sources of power generation. For Dungeness, the best new technology for us to consider is Small Modular nuclear Reactors (SMRs), which could be easily accommodated within the footprint of the existing nuclear site at Dungeness.
Nuclear power provides a clean and secure source of energy, which is increasingly important as we look to reduce our reliance on carbon energy sources, as well as imported gas from Russia. Whilst we have seen a great growth in the use of renewable energy sources, like solar and wind power, we still need supplies that are always there when we need them, even when the wind doesn’t blow, and the sun isn’t shining. Over the past year I have been in discussions with Rolls Royce who are heading the UK’s development of Small Modular Reactors, and I will be continuing to make the case to them, as well as for the suitability of Dungeness as a location. However there are also other international businesses who are looking to invest in this technology and I will be looking at every avenue of opportunity to bring this investment to our area.
This week the government has also made further announcements on the support that will be available throughout 2023 and into next year, to help mitigate the costs of high energy bills. Although wholesale energy prices are beginning to fall, the risk of price volatility remains high, so we must ensure that businesses have the assurance that they can afford to keep on operating during this period. That is why we have launched a new Energy Bills Discount Scheme, which will provide businesses locked into contracts before recent price falls with a discount of up to £6.97/MWh to their gas bill, and up to £19.61/MWh for electricity bills, with more support available to energy-intensive trades. The new scheme will help businesses manage their costs until March 2024.
On 20 January I will be hosting my annual jobs and apprenticeships fair at the Leas Cliff Hall in Folkestone. Attendance is free but pre-registration is recommended, and you can find out more details on my website damiancollins.com. Our doors will be open between 10am and 3pm. We already have over 35 organisations attending and offering a range of full-time jobs, apprenticeships, part-time flexible work, training courses, and volunteer opportunities. If this is of interest, I look forward to seeing you there.