The chief executive of the Nuclear Industry Association (NIA) has warned there is “serious concern” in the sector about the possible effects of a no-deal Brexit.
Former shadow energy minister Tom Greatrex said the absence of a transition period could cause serious problems for the industry.
Speaking to Utility Week, Greatrex said: “There remains a significant risk that if we don’t have a transition period, which may be a consequence of there being no deal, then we won’t have that situation with minimal disruption at the end of it.”
He said although the UK and EU have already reached an agreement over what their future relationship should be in terms of the civil nuclear industry, these plans would be scuppered if the wider deal fell apart.
With the free movement of workers and components at stake, Greatrex said a no-deal Brexit is a “serious concern” for the nuclear industry as it is for many other sectors.
“The lack of there being a deal means sensible and rational agreements that are already in place between the UK and the rest of the EU as part of Euratom just fall away and we then have a time lag of trying to put all those in place afterwards,” he explained.
“What you are talking about is replicating and replacing what has built up over the course of more than 40 years in a very constrained time frame.”
Currently the UK remains a member of the EU-linked nuclear safeguarding regime, Euratom. Upon leaving the EU in March 2019 however the UK will cease to be a member of the organisation.
In June a domestic safeguarding bill, the Nuclear Safeguards Act 2018, was given Royal Assent and the government has since expressed confidence that the UK will have enough nuclear safeguarding inspectors when it exits the Euratom arrangements as part of Brexit.
In an update on the negotiations given in July, it was announced that the UK and EU have agreed on all Euratom-related articles in the draft withdrawal agreement, allowing the relevant text to be finalised.