Andrea Leadsom – 2016 Speech on Shale Gas

Andrea Leadsom
Andrea Leadsom

Below is the text of the speech made by Andrea Leadsom, the Minister of State at the Department of Energy and Climate Change, on 18 May 2016.

Introduction

Shale is a fantastic opportunity for the UK. It will create a significant number of local jobs meaning financial security for hard working people and their families, boost our economy and strengthen our energy security. But let me be clear, safety is absolutely my priority.

The UK’s regulations are some of the strongest in the world, and with over 50 years of successful and safe onshore and offshore oil and gas extraction; I am confident that the protections in place for the environment and for people are totally rigorous.

Shale will only ever be developed in a safe way – for people and the environment – and will only take place in appropriate locations.

A few months ago, I visited a conventional gas drilling site in the countryside which, while not a fracking site, was very similar to how one would look in the future.

I talked at length to local residents to find out what they thought about the site. They told me that while they had concerns when the site was proposed, in reality it was “practically invisible” and very quiet. Having visited the site I saw this for myself.

You could walk along a nearby pathway and have no idea that this site was even there. The drill heads were only six feet high, very quiet and the entire site, which is gravelled, was only about the size of two football pitches.

This site was welcomed by the local community because it was providing real benefits.

As well as being a reliable site of home-grown gas for the UK; it was also providing skilled, long term jobs for local individuals – helping to boost economic growth and local investment.

This gas site, while conventional, clearly illustrated the benefits a shale industry can bring to the UK in the future.

Need for Gas

Gas currently accounts for over 60% of household energy use. We use gas in our homes for heating and cooking, and it’s also used in factories up and down the country to produce products like soaps, paints and textiles for clothes, as well as the plastics found everywhere from our mobile phones and computers to sterile medical equipment.

The choice the UK faces is not whether we want gas or don’t want gas. The choice we face is how much we want to rely on gas from abroad – some of which may or may not be reliable. Or whether we would prefer to extract more from the UK.

Need for Shale – Energy Security

Britain used to produce so much gas that we sold it to other countries. But today we are forced to import much of what we need, and that share will continue to rise unless we make the most of our home-grown energy supplies.

Our energy security is absolutely vital.

But it is also vital that our energy supply is safe, low cost and low carbon.

Low Carbon Bridge

The UK is currently dependent on coal for around 30% of our electricity needs. This is unsustainable if we want to move to a lower carbon world. We are therefore making a significant move away from coal in the coming years, aiming to remove it entirely from the mix by 2025.

We will have to replace this energy capacity with lower carbon sources.

Gas is the cleanest fossil fuel and shale gas can provide an effective “low Carbon Bridge” while we move to renewable energy.

Jobs and Growth

As a home grown energy source, shale gas will also provide a significant opportunity to create jobs in communities across Britain.

Ernst & Young has estimated a thriving shale industry could mean 64,500 jobs nationally, with more than 6,000 highly skilled jobs on shale gas pads themselves.

But we are not just talking about jobs for geologists, drilling specialists and chemical engineers.

We are talking about jobs for construction workers, truck drivers, water treatment experts, and people working in local retail and service industries.

Jobs that will make a real difference to local areas and provide new opportunities for communities.

It is clear to me that the UK’s shale resources have the potential to bolster our energy security, create jobs and provide a bridge to a greener future. But to do this, two things are critical.

Pre-requisites to a successful industry – Safety

Firstly – safety. This must always be – and will always be – absolutely paramount.

The UK has decades of experience in safely regulating oil and gas exploration and we are bringing this experience to bear on shale. We have world-class independent regulators who will not allow any operations which are dangerous to local communities or the environment.

The Environment Agency will not grant operators a permit if the risks to the environment or groundwater are unacceptable. They will impose strict conditions to make sure there is proper protection of the environment, and to prohibit all activities which pose unacceptable risks.

The Health and Safety Executive will make sure operations are safe – they will scrutinise well design and monitor its progress to make sure the operators manages risks effectively throughout the whole life cycle of operations.

And now, through the Infrastructure Act, we are putting in place a range of further measures to provide the public with confidence that this industry is being taken forward in a balanced way, including measures on protected areas, environmental impact assessments and groundwater monitoring.

Government has taken clear action to protect our most valuable areas.

We have passed regulations to ensure that hydraulic fracturing cannot take place within 1,200 metres beneath the surface of National Parks, the Broads, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, World Heritage Sites and areas that are most vulnerable to groundwater pollution.

We are also committed to ensuring that hydraulic fracturing cannot be conducted from wells that are drilled at the surface of our most valuable areas, and have formally consulted with industry on how best to implement this commitment.

Strong controls are also in place to mitigate seismic risks. Operators must monitor seismic activity – in real time – before, during and after operations. If a tremor of magnitude 0.5 is detected (which is similar to a door slamming) all operations will halt.

I would like to stress that we have a very strong regulatory regime in place for exploratory activities and we will look to continuously improve it as the industry develops.

I urge industry, academia, local authorities and NGOs to continue to work with us to develop world class protections that will make sure that shale is developed safely.

Public Engagement

But having a world class regulatory regime is not enough.

We need to challenge the misinformation about the industry which is being spread, and clearly explain that shale exploration will always be conducted safely.

Therefore the second critical factor in developing a successful UK shale industry is public engagement.

The public need to receive objective and scientific information which explains how fracking occurs, how it is being regulated, and what it means for them. There is a role for everyone here today in providing this information.

Government needs to provide scientific and objective information to the general public, which will inform the debate and allow individuals to form evidence-based views on shale. We are working hard to do this, regularly attending public meetings across the country to better understand local issues and where additional information would be helpful.

Industry needs to engage early and often with local communities, answering questions and providing reassurance. I am therefore very pleased to hear that the industry body, UKOOG, has established a Community Engagement Charter where operators will engage local communities, residents and other stakeholders at each of three stages – exploration, appraisal and production. This is additional to the public consultation which is required through the planning application.

Regulatory bodies need to continue to clearly explain the strong regulations which have been set up to make sure that the industry is developed in a safe way – for people and for the environment. I am pleased to hear that the major regulatory bodies have been visiting communities where shale applications have been lodged, and have been working with local authorities and industry to better communicate the regulatory regime.

Local communities are at the heart of the developing shale gas operations which will bring benefits for the whole nation.

We must all continue to engage with the general public about the actions we are taking to enable shale development, and to challenge the myths and misconceptions about shale.

What we’ve done

But this Government isn’t just talking about shale gas. We are taking action to make sure that the industry has the right conditions to succeed.

Planning

With the potential for shale gas to support our energy security and to help create jobs and growth, the Government is understandably keen to press ahead and get exploration underway so that we can determine how much shale gas there is and how much we may be to use.

Doing this requires close partnership working between planning authorities, the industry, regulators and local communities.

In August 2015 my Department and the Department for Communities and Local Government issued a joint policy statement stating that planning authorities should deal with applications for shale within the statutory time-frame of 16 weeks or risk being identified as underperforming.

The Communities Secretary will actively consider calling in applications to make a decision if the local council does not do it within the timeframe, and all appeals for shale development will be prioritised and dealt with as quickly as possible.

We need to tackle the issue of extensive planning delays head on if we are to reap the benefits which shale gas offers to our energy security, jobs and wider economy.

And firms that want to explore for shale need to be confident that their applications will be processed in a timely way and examined purely on a planning basis.

The new measures we’ve introduced will help make this happen. We are addressing a problem that causes unnecessary delays and benefits no-one.

This does not change the processes that a shale application has to go through. There will still need to be strict environmental and health assessments. This is just about speeding up the initial stage.

All this is on top of measures already in place to make sure that the UK has the most competitive tax regime in Europe for shale gas.

Operators or potential operators have the regulatory and fiscal environment they need to enable developments.

Community benefits & Shale Wealth Fund

But while we make sure the shale industry has the tools it needs, we must also make sure that those that most affected by shale gas activities see benefits too.

We strongly believe that communities hosting shale gas developments should share in the financial returns they generate.

The Government welcomes the shale gas companies’ commitment to make set payments to these communities, which could be worth £5-10m for a typical 10-well site, and we want to go further.

As announced by the Chancellor in the 2014 Autumn Statement, we are determined to make sure that local communities share more of the proceeds and feel more of the benefits, using a proportion of the tax revenues that are recouped from shale gas production.

We will running a consultation later in the year on how this Shale Wealth Fund will be designed.

And don’t forget that councils will also be able to retain 100% of the business rates – doubling the 50% rate retention previously allowed – which could be worth up to £1.7m a year for a typical 12 well site. It will be directly funded by central Government.

Current status

We know the shale industry is eager to press forward and the Government shares this desire for action.

A clear demonstration of this enthusiasm can be seen in the results of the 14th Onshore Oil and Gas Licensing Round, where the Oil & Gas Authority announced that 159 onshore blocks, incorporated into 93 licenses were being formally offered to successful applicants.

Around 75% of those 159 blocks offered relate to unconventional shale oil or gas.

This is in addition to a number of companies which have existing licences in place and are in the process of seeking permissions to drill exploratory wells.

Some 7,300 square miles of Great Britain is already under licence, including significant areas likely to contain shale.

Conclusion

To conclude, home-grown gas can secure our energy future in a time when our traditional sources are in declince and we are seeking to move away from expensive foreign imports.

It can provide jobs for our people and tax revenues for our society.

And it can help the UK to decarbonise while we move away from coal to lower-carbon energy sources.

Secure energy.

Economic growth and job creation.

A bridge to a greener future.

Unlocking the shale gas deep underground is too big an opportunity to pass up. It must be done safely and securely, but we can’t throw that opportunity away.

Thank you very much.

Andrea Leadsom – 2016 Speech on Nuclear Power Stations

Andrea Leadsom
Andrea Leadsom

Below is the text of the speech made by Andrea Leadsom, the Minister of State at the Department of Energy and Climate Change, in London on 20 April 2016.

Introduction

Good Morning Ladies and Gentlemen. It’s a huge pleasure to open Marketforce’s Nuclear New Build Forum today. As you will know, we face a number of very important challenges in the energy sector over the coming years – not just dealing with decades of under investment, but also meeting our energy trilemma of keeping the lights on, keeping the bills down and all whilst addressing our world leading decarbonisation targets. Your industry has a huge part to play in each of our objectives.

Since the start of the year, new nuclear has never been far from the headlines. Both Government and the nuclear industry have faced question after question about our plans for expansion.

And to be honest, I welcome those questions. I think it is healthy that projects on the scale of those proposed for nuclear new build should come under close public scrutiny.

One of the reasons I welcome questions about our new build programme is because it gives me an opportunity to restate, again and again, why we believe new nuclear is so important for the UK; it gives us the chance to explain that Hinkley Point C is a very good deal for the people of Britain; and it gives us the opportunity to say what we are doing to enable other new nuclear power stations to be built, for example at Wylfa in Anglesey and at Moorside in Cumbria and others besides.

Case for New Nuclear

New nuclear has a crucial role to play as the UK makes the transition to a low-carbon economy. To make this transition a success we must completely decarbonise the power sector and we need nuclear to do that. Why? Because nuclear is the only proven technology that can be deployed on a sufficiently large scale to provide continuous low-carbon power.

Our own analysis tells us that decarbonisation of the power sector can be achieved most cheaply, securely and reliably if nuclear remains a core part of the UK’s energy system.

And it is also clear that security of supply is far more likely if we have good diversity of supply. Whether we are considering the number of different suppliers of gas, or in this case the number of technologies we rely on for our power, avoiding over-reliance on a small number of sources is important.

Existing nuclear plants currently meet around 16% of our electricity needs. Without nuclear new build, the share of generation from nuclear could dip to 3% in 2030. This would reduce the diversity of our energy supplies and would almost certainly make achieving our goals to cut the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions far more challenging and more expensive.

So pursuing new nuclear is the clear and right choice for the Government.

But there are other considerations, too. Britain is a world leader in civil nuclear, through our skills-base, infrastructure and regulatory regime. Making nuclear projects happen can keep Britain at the forefront of nuclear development – generating skilled employment, building our supply chain and creating global export opportunities.

Hinkley

Good progress is being made so that Hinkley can provide clean, affordable and secure energy that hardworking families and businesses can rely on now and in the future. I was delighted to see for myself the progress being made at the site at the end of last year and it was amazing to see the level of enthusiasm there.

EDF and the French Government have said that EDF are working towards a Final Investment Decision ‘in the near future with the full support of the French Government’ and I’m sure EDF will be able to go into further detail later on today.

Hinkley Point C is expected to be up and running in 2025, and will provide 3.2 GW of secure, base-load and low carbon electricity, meeting 7% of the UK’s electricity needs. That is enough to power six million homes – twice as many as the whole of London.

Hinkley will provide an enormous boost to both the local and national economy: 25,000 jobs during construction; 1,000 apprenticeships; 900 permanent staff once up and running ;£40 million a year to the local economy. These are good numbers. Hinkley will make a difference.

Some people ask “is Hinkley a good deal for consumers?” I believe it is. We have made sure that consumers won’t pay a penny for electricity until the plant is generating, and so the risks during construction are with the developer.

If profits prove to be higher than expected a proportion will be shared with consumers; if the project comes in under budget, savings will be shared with consumers; but if there are overspends then the developer bears all the additional costs. That is a good deal for UK consumers.

But Hinkley C is only the first in a series of proposed new nuclear projects in the pipeline. It will blaze a trail for further nuclear development. Industry has set out proposals to develop 18 gigawatts of new nuclear power in the UK at six sites – Hinkley Point, Sizewell, Bradwell, Moorside, Wylfa and Oldbury. This pipeline could deliver around a third of the electricity we will need in the 2030s; reduce our carbon emissions by more than 40 million tonnes; bring an estimated £80 billion of investment into the UK and employ up to 30,000 people across the new nuclear supply chain at the peak of construction.

Supply Chain

There is massive potential for UK suppliers from the new nuclear programme in the UK. It is a top priority for me that the UK supply chain must be given the opportunity to compete for high value contracts throughout the sector.

We are working closely with industry to create an environment that will have several benefits:

First, by developing an open and transparent approach to the supply chain: The Government is clear that we want the developers of new nuclear plant to share supply chain information with UK industry early, so that companies can prepare for the opportunity and line themselves up to bid for contracts.

Second, by maximising UK content in Hinkley Point C and future new nuclear plant: EDF has estimated that more than 60% of Hinkley Point C’s construction cost will be placed with UK firms. We want to match or better this percentage for all New Nuclear Build in the UK.

Third, through new trade partnerships: we believe UK expertise can help deliver nuclear projects in other countries, whether that is in the home countries of those proposing to build plant in the UK, or in third markets.

And finally by developing sustainable content: huge value comes from long-term contracts and I want to see our UK companies playing the long game, developing competitive investment strategies that will lead to a healthy and enduring nuclear skills base in the UK.

The Nuclear Industry Association has a very valuable role to play to support our supply chain, for example, by leading the way in creating the ‘Demand Model’, which will identify the UK Nuclear Industry’s capability and capacity for New Nuclear. The model will help companies understand where there are opportunities and match them to those opportunities.

And there is help for companies elsewhere – the Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre is not only the UK centre of excellence for research into advance manufacturing but it supports the UK Nuclear Industry with its Fit for Nuclear programme which is readying UK businesses for new build.

Skills Challenge

A thriving supply chain needs a thriving skills base. A skilled workforce will be essential to build new nuclear plant on time and on budget and to maximise the opportunities for the UK supply chain. I was delighted to meet some of the new apprentices on my visit to EDF’s Cannington Court at the end of last year.

The scale of the industry’s new build aspirations, the length of time since the last new build project and the high average age of the existing nuclear workforce mean that it is essential to take action now to prevent skills gaps appearing during the course of the new nuclear programme. 70% of highly skilled workers in the nuclear sector are due to retire by 2025.

The most recent Nuclear Workforce Assessment suggests the total current demand for skilled nuclear workers is about 78,000. This is expected to rise to 111,000 as both the civil and defence new build programmes gather pace.

This is a challenge for industry and Government to tackle in partnership. The Nuclear Skills Strategy Group brings this partnership to life – the NSSG is the UK’s lead strategic skills forum for the sector and it will be accountable for developing a national nuclear skills strategy. The group will address the skills infrastructure, processes and the training provision. In addressing the skills challenge, the NSSG will continue to develop the pool of existing skills across the nuclear sector and will also consider the transferability of skills from other sectors in the energy space – something I believe is crucial to sustaining the industry.

To support these efforts, last year, the Chancellor confirmed funding to create five National Colleges, among which was The National College for Nuclear.

The College will work collaboratively with the wider industry, skills bodies and training providers and will look at international best practice to develop an industry-wide curriculum. It will start off two campuses in Cumbria and the South West and incorporate the best colleges, universities and training providers operating nationally to help deliver its objectives. BIS have now completed the due diligence process and are preparing the final grant offer letter.

Small Modular Reactors

Looking further into the future, alternative nuclear technologies may offer exciting opportunities that could help us to meet our energy and climate change challenges, as well as develop domestic capability. They could offer huge commercial opportunities for UK industry.

The Government already recognises the potential of Small Modular Reactors.

In November last year, we committed to investing at least £250m in nuclear research and development. This included a competition to identify the best value SMR design for the UK. Because SMRs are at the early stages of development, the UK is in a strong position to leverage its considerable expertise across the nuclear supply chain to develop them. This will help position the UK as a global leader in innovative nuclear technologies.

During the Budget the Chancellor announced the launch of phase one of a competitive process to identify which Small Modular Reactor designs could feasibly deliver in the UK. It will include structured engagement with technology developers, utilities, potential investors, funders and others interested in developing, commercialising and financing SMRs in the UK.

In addition, and as part of our wider R&D programme, Government will allocate up to £30m over the next 5 years for an SMR-enabling advanced manufacturing programme to develop skills capacity.

Separately, the Government commissioned a techno-economic assessment of SMRs, which is due to conclude shortly. This will contribute to the evidence that helps Government understand the potential long-term value that SMRs contribute to our in the energy portfolio and how they could contribute to the UK’s economic needs.

I would encourage those of you here today, who would like to participate in phase one of the competition, to register your interest. Now is the time.

Wider Nuclear R&D

But our efforts in research and development go wider than just SMRs. The Government is investing in an ambitious nuclear R&D programme intended to revive the UK’s nuclear expertise and position us as a global leader in innovative nuclear technologies.

As we develop the details of the programme, we are listening to the advice and recommendations of the Nuclear Innovation and Research Advisory Board (NIRAB), which has developed a proposed programme of national nuclear R&D under the leadership of Dame Sue Ion, an expert advisor on the nuclear power industry.

The NIRAB’s recommendations focus on 5 key themes:

Firstly, creating a strategic toolkit to better underpin future planning on nuclear R&D;

Secondly, researching more efficient and tolerant fuels for future and current reactors;

Thirdly, developing 21st Century manufacturing to build the advanced and modular equipment of the future;

Fourthly, working towards SMRs and the fourth generation reactors of the future through Advanced Reactor Design; and

Fifthly, recycling fuel to ensure a secure, cost effective and sustainable future for advanced reactors.

We will be announcing the priority work streams for the first year of the wider programme soon. We hope to announce the full 5 year programme later this year.

Close

So, in closing, let me return to where I started.

Questions about new nuclear are part of a healthy conversation about this country’s future energy make-up. The rationale for bringing forward new nuclear plant remains strong – we are working to build a secure, affordable and clean energy system, with your help.

The opportunities for UK business are already there and are growing fast.

And the potential for the UK to be at the forefront of the next generation of nuclear that this government is determined to seize.

Thank you.

Andrea Leadsom – 2016 Speech at Women in Nuclear UK Conference

Andrea Leadsom
Andrea Leadsom

Below is the text of the speech made by Andrea Leadsom, the Minister of State at Department of Energy and Climate Change, on 2 February 2016.

Introduction

I am very pleased to be here today supporting Women in Nuclear UK’s mission to address the gender imbalance in the nuclear sector and delighted to speak to you as part of the only all women Commons Ministerial team!

I have worked in a number of male dominated sectors so, for me, this issue has a deep, personal resonance.

We can send people to the moon. We can explore the vast depths of our oceans. We can build great cities and towering structures. We can even talk to our computers. We have achieved greatness in many areas. But on the issue of gender imbalance, while there has been progress in the UK and around the world, far more needs to be done.

It is imperative that we empower women now and for the future. A great number of British women have inspired us throughout history, succeeding against all the odds, to blaze a trail for future generations to follow.

Down through the centuries, British women have made their mark; in areas such as politics, literature, medicine, and social reform.

Jane Austen the great novelist, Dorothy Hodgkin won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1964, and Helen Sharman was the first British woman in space.

We look to them, and many others, with pride and revel in their legacy that changed our society forever.

These women serve as a reminder as to what can be achieved when women are given the opportunity to reach their full potential.

I want the nuclear industry to be a launch pad for the next generation of world changing women pioneers, I want the nuclear industry to provide strong female role models, strong female leaders and a strong female presence in the sector’s workforce.

Today I want to set out why it is imperative that we address the gender imbalance, what initiatives are in place within the nuclear industry and what more can be done.

Gender balance globally and the UK

The World Economic Forum’s 2015 Global Gender Gap Report ranks 145 economies according to how well they leverage their female talent pool. The UK is in 18th place, up from 26th place in 2014. Iceland holds the top spot, 5 years in a row, with three Nordic countries following close behind.

What is the reason behind these countries’ success? Among other equitable policies, it is the combination of high female labour force participation, salary gaps between men and women being among the lowest in the world and abundant opportunities for women to rise to positions of leadership. We must learn from these countries leading in the area of gender balance.

However, according to PwC, more than two thirds of the UK’s biggest 100 energy companies fail to count a single woman on their boards. In the nuclear industry, only 8 women hold board positions out of the 100 positions available. Additionally, the NIA reports that of its members’ – 64,000 employees – only 17% are female. In engineering, IT and technical sectors, women earn on average £10K less than their male colleagues.

The nuclear industry can and must do much better than this.

Benefits of gender equality in the nuclear sector

So, why should the industry concern itself with gender imbalance? The simple answer is that a nuclear industry which is equally appealing to both women and men will provide nuclear sector companies with access to the entire pool of talent the UK has to offer.

Conversely, an industry that is not attractive to women risks losing the best talent to competitors.

The fact remains that companies with a gender balance perform better because diversity brings together varied perspectives. Simply put, the nuclear sector cannot reach its full potential without maximising all available talents.

The skills gap challenge

So, as we deliver the UK’s nuclear programme over the decades to come, it is imperative that we address the skills gap. In 2015 the total demand for skilled nuclear workers was approximately 77,000 Full Time Equivalents. This number is expected to rise as both the civil and defence nuclear new build programmes gather pace. Demand is forecast to peak in 2021 at over 111,000.

The nuclear industry thrives on innovation in areas such as decommissioning and small modular reactors. A diverse workforce is therefore far more likely to support innovation.

And the fact remains, we are going to need a more skilled workforce across the civil and defence nuclear sectors. By not attracting women to the sector, we will be, by default, recruiting from a much smaller pool than we need to. So it therefore makes absolute sense to attract more women to these sectors.

Current initiatives

We are making progress.

The new MentorSet scheme, co-ordinated by the Women’s Engineering Society, will help women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths by providing independent mentors who understand the challenges faced in the engineering and allied sectors.

The Department for Energy and Climate Change is already a member and I encourage you all to join as well. By participating in the MentorSet scheme you will be demonstrating a clear commitment to your female employees and to the Women’s Engineering Society’s vision of a better and more diverse world.

Additionally, Women in Nuclear launched an Industry Charter that lays out 10 points which business leaders signing up to must address. 30 companies have already signed up to the Industry Charter.

In 2014, EDF Energy more than doubled the female proportion of its new intake of graduate engineers to 32% within a year. At EDF, women now account for 20% of the company’s apprentices, up from 6% and I was delighted to meet some of those apprentices on my recent visit to EDF’s Cannington Court at the end of last year.

Also, the Nuclear Industry Association’s “Regeneration” campaign seeks to engage young people on issues relating to energy and provides information about jobs and skills available to them in the industry. This initiative encourages young people, especially girls to continue to study STEM subjects.

Encouraging women to pursue STEM subjects

These subjects are of course crucial. But in the UK, only 1 woman to every 7 men works in science, technology, engineering and maths. We need to get more girls interested and excited about STEM subjects.

The nuclear industry has some great STEM initiatives. WiN UK have done a terrific job in getting the message to young girls that they can have a successful career by pursuing these subjects. In 2015, WiN UK spoke to over 1,000 students about the fulfilling careers the nuclear sector has to offer.

Also, EDF’s “Pretty Curious” campaign is helping to change perceptions of STEM by sparking the imagination of young girls and inspiring them to continue to pursue science-based subjects at school and in their careers.

There are already success stories. Amy, without wanting to copy the leader of the opposition too much, I just wanted to mention, is 21 and an electrical maintenance technician at Hinkley Point B. Bethany who is a 23 year old reactor chemistry engineer at Heysham 2 Nuclear Power Station. Also, on a visit to Sellafield, I met Dorothy, who has a key role leading innovative Sellafield decommissioning.

There could be countless more women just like Amy, Bethany and Dorothy, but we need to create the right environment, provide the right tools and not expect girls to fit into the existing framework for achieving success.

Prominent women in nuclear and the need for more women in senior positions

In more senior, leadership roles we have Dame Sue Ion, Chair of the Nuclear Innovation and Research Advisory Board and an expert advisor on the nuclear power industry.

Ann McCall is the waste management director at RWM and Kinna Kintrea, the assurance director at the NDA has a long history of working in manufacturing and male dominated environments.

And of course, my congratulations go to Miranda Kirschel, the chair of Women in Nuclear UK, who was just recently awarded an MBE for services to promote equal opportunities in the nuclear industry.

I am also delighted that the Office for Nuclear Regulation has hired its first female Chief Executive. I know you heard from Adriènne Kelbie earlier today and I’m sure she will do a fantastic job.

It is through these high profile appointments that we really will start to effect change. We need to see more women in positions of leadership, and the only way to achieve this is for leaders in the nuclear industry, whether they be male or female, to enable and champion this change. Change must come not only from the top, but at the grassroots level as well. I want women in senior and high profile positions to be the norm, not the exception.

All these women demonstrate it is possible to be successful in what are currently male dominated sectors. I worked in the banking and finance industry for 25 years, then went into politics and now I am a Government Minister – all typically male dominated arenas. I know from my own experience that Women can succeed in these areas given the right opportunities.

What more can be done

But more needs to be done. The Industry Charter, that I mentioned earlier, is a great way to get you, the business leaders in the nuclear sector to take a look at your own organisations and your recruitment practices. I urge you to review the targets you have set for your organisations on the recruitment of women and set new, more ambitious goals.

Also, we must continue to break the perception that STEM subjects are just for boys and encourage more girls to take up these subjects.

We need businesses to step up their game. We need to see more females in adverts that send a clear message that women are not only welcome but will be given the same opportunities as men. And we need to hear from more female scientists about the work they do. We need to roll out a different set of role models so that girls and women know that science and the nuclear sector are areas which they can work in, successfully and equally.

Conclusion

The transition towards a low carbon economy through our commitment to building a new generation of nuclear power plants represents a fresh opportunity for the nuclear industry to embrace gender equality. We have an opportunity to be a world class leader in narrowing the gender imbalance. How we address this issue may well set a precedent for other industries and countries.

It is imperative that companies in the nuclear sector take individual ownership of tackling the issue of gender imbalance, and place diversity firmly at the heart of their recruitment, retention and progression.

We want a sector that welcomes women and one that provides the same opportunities as to their male counterparts. Let us chart a new and better path for the women of this country.

Andrea Leadsom – 2015 Speech to Iraqi Petroleum Conference

Andrea Leadsom
Andrea Leadsom

Below is the text of the speech made by Andrea Leadsom, the Minister of State at the Department for Energy and Climate Change, on 9 June 2015.

Welcome

I am delighted to be here today for my first public engagement since being appointed as UK Energy Minister. It has been a steep learning curve over the last couple of weeks, but my previous role as City Minister, as well as spending 25 years in finance prior to becoming an MP, will stand me in good stead. I can certainly tell you now that a key priority for UK Government, and my personal priority as Energy Minister, is energy security: keeping the lights on and the bills down for todays’ consumers, their children and their grandchildren.

In an increasingly interdependent world, energy security cannot be a wholly domestic issue. Only with strong and stable energy partners across the world can we achieve secure access to energy, a well-functioning energy market and stability to plan for the future. Recent events in Russia and Ukraine have made this clearer than ever.

Iraq is a key partner, which is why I am pleased to be addressing this prestigious event so early in my new job. In my address I would like to set out how I think we can work together as partners to archive our shared goals of energy security and prosperity and highlight the role that British businesses can play in supporting these efforts.

So first, Iraq’s Energy Potential.

The IEA estimates that global oil demand will grow by 14 million barrels a day to reach a total of 104 million barrels a day by 2040. Iraq –a country of immense resource wealth – has the potential to meet a significant proportion of that growth, in fact the highest proportion of any other country by 2040. Because of this huge potential Iraq remains strategically, economically and practically at the centre of any conversation we have about global energy security.

This makes it more vital than ever that we continue to focus on investment and the future health of Iraq’s energy sector which will help to deliver prosperity for Iraq as a whole. It is great news that Iraqi oil exports have recovered and continue to increase month on month. We will all benefit from this rise in production.

And second, what can British business do?

The UK is highly ambitious – we want to be Iraq’s “partner of choice”, we are committed to working with you to make this happen.

Our biggest energy companies have already committed billions of dollars to Iraq, both in terms of investment and in the provision of technical expertise.

For example BP is running one of the world’s largest fields in southern Iraq and have goals to increase this even further and triple production. Shell has recently signed a Heads of Agreement to build an $11bn petrochemical plant in Basra, which will be one of the largest in the world and will generate around 40,000 to 50,000 jobs and will contribute significantly to Iraq’s economic recovery, as well as supporting sustainable and inclusive growth.

Many other British companies also operate across Iraq in all parts of the energy sector, from production to engineering and the supporting supply chains. They have been at the front of technological expertise and advancements and exploring new methods of best practice, continuing to help strengthen Iraq’s energy sector. For example last year Shell and Petronas were able to start production at Majnoon. As well as increasing production to a target of 1.8million barrels of oil a day by 2017, it has begun the vital process of capturing flared gas, as has the Joint Venture at Basra between Iraq’s South Gas Company, Shell and Mitsubishi Corporation. As you will know flaring is a great waste of resource and money, and causes great damage to the environment. This technology can address this, allowing Iraq to make the most of its energy reserves, diverting the gas for local power generation and export.

The UK Government is very keen to support more British involvement in Iraq’s oil and gas industry. To do this UK Trade and Investment have a programme of strategic engagement in place with BP, Shell and the leading engineering, procurement and construction contractors to help smaller UK companies make the most of the opportunities available and provide the skills and services Iraq needs. For example we have run a “share fair” with BP to introduce more UK companies to the procurement chain associated with the Rumaila project.

We are also helping smaller companies engage with the larger players in the market. For example, with our industry partners the Energy Industries Council, we sponsored two delegations of UK Small and Medium Enterprises at the Basra Oil and Gas show. I was delighted to hear that as a consequence of our engagement with BP in Iraq, Severn Glocon of Gloucester has been working in country for 2 years from their Basra based engineering support facility. This is great news – and we want to see more of the same.

I am proud of the role that British businesses are playing and commend the contribution of all our firms involved. So to reiterate, my aim is for the UK to be Iraq’s primary partner of choice in energy.

Third, how can Iraq encourage further investment?

Well the importance of international investment into Iraq, both for Iraq as well as for our own energy security, is clear. As we all know strong leadership, vision and cooperation between all parties in the energy sector will create the right commercial environment for investment. The rule of law and strong independent institutions are a key part of this. In Iraq, lower oil prices in particular have highlighted some weaknesses in economic institutions. Tackling these, along with some of the political divisions that risk undermining Iraq’s energy potential, is of great importance. This will give international companies the confidence that their commitments will be honoured and their investments protected and will attract more international companies to invest in Iraq.

The UK is a firm believer that good governance also ensures that a country’s energy resources benefit its entire people, both today and in the future.

Good governance includes a strong partnership between the Government of Iraq and Kurdistan Regional Government. We welcomed the budget allocations and energy export deal in December which laid the foundation for increased cooperation. We underscore the importance of both parties continuing to work together, as they have been over recent months, to ensure this deal is allowed to succeed.

Fourth, diversification will be important for Iraq.

Iraq’s energy potential is the foundation for a brighter future for the country. A prosperous energy sector will support economic development throughout the country. Revenues from the energy sector could be used for Iraq’s broader development – for example investment in infrastructure, improved services for the Iraqi people, education and healthcare. All parts of the country and population could benefit from the investment and prosperity. In turn, Iraq’s economic development will be vital for its political future and stability.

In spite of the opportunities that a prosperous energy sector can deliver, the recent fall in oil prices has also demonstrated the vulnerability to market fluctuations when relying too heavily on energy products. Financial discipline is key to weathering the storm of low prices, which I know, has hit Iraq hard. But, longer-term, Iraq will want to consider taking steps towards greater economic diversification. This is fundamental to achieving a prosperous and robust economy and ensuring inclusive and sustainable growth.

Finally security remains a key issue.

The UK plans to continue our support as Iraq takes these transformational steps. Tackling Iraq’s challenges, from the fall in oil prices to regional events, is important to us all.

This is especially true when it comes to tackling the threat which ISIL poses. Together, we face a common enemy of violent Islamic extremists. Only through support and partnership can responses to this threat be effective and inclusive.

The UK is committed to continue to stand by the people of Iraq, the government of Iraq and the Kurdistan Regional Government in their fight against terrorism and protecting civilians from ISIL’s murderous campaign. The UK airstrikes and other military support show that the UK plays its part in standing against ISIL, but we recognise that this is a generational fight and it will take time and patience.

We continue to support the Iraqi-led government response to ISIL as part of a global coalition of more than 60 countries. As part of the Global Coalition nearly 800 UK personnel are deployed on operations in the region; helping Iraqis to strengthen and mobilise against ISIL, providing counter- IED training and airstrike, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities. We continue to reaffirm our commitment to unity in tackling ISIL and seek to build on the successful Paris meeting last week. I know that our Ambassador to Iraq, Frank Baker, will speak further on these issues later today.

So in conclusion.

Fulfilling Iraq’s energy potential is a priority for the whole of Iraq for the UK and for British companies and more broadly for global energy security. As a friend to all of Iraq, the UK stands ready to provide support and cooperation. We are dedicated to working with all parties in tackling the ISIL threat; this is a priority and a strong unified response set on solid economic foundations will prove most effective. Iraq’s significant energy resources have the potential to drive future stability and prosperity, creating jobs and raising living standards for the Iraqi people and I am confident that Iraq will continue to be a great and responsible energy producer, with benefits for all Iraqis. Unity and cooperation is fundamental to realising these goals so let us work together to guarantee prosperity, stability and energy security for us all.

Thank you for your attention.

Andrea Leadsom – 2015 Speech to the Nuclear Industry Association

Andrea Leadsom
Andrea Leadsom

Below is the text of the speech made by Andrea Leadsom, the Minister of State at the Department of Energy and Climate Change, at the Park Plaza Hotel in London on 30 June 2015.

It is a pleasure to address you today at this important Nuclear Industry Association event to showcase the UK’s new nuclear programme; and to have the opportunity to speak to you all – the people who are instrumental in turning that programme into a reality.

Your industry is key to delivering our vision of the clean, affordable, safe and reliable energy British consumers and businesses need and vital to keeping the lights on in the decades ahead.

Here in the UK, we face two big challenges – maintaining energy supplies that British businesses and homes can rely on, and keeping people’s bills as low as possible.

These cannot be treated as separate issues. That is why this Government’s priority is to set out a single, coherent energy policy that gets us to where we need to be – keeping the lights on, powering the economy with cleaner energy, and making sure people pay less for their bills.

We need to bring more capacity online over the next decade in order to avoid the narrowing of margins that we have seen in recent winters.

There should be no doubt that this Government is absolutely committed to nuclear power. We see new nuclear power stations as a vital part of the infrastructure investment needed in our electricity sector to ensure our future energy supply.

So its an exciting time for me to be overseeing the nuclear portfolio within Government.

Today I want to outline my plan for the future of British nuclear.

Nuclear energy plays a critical role in the Government’s security of supply and decarbonisation goals. The UK’s nine existing nuclear power plants generate around 20% of our electricity demand. But all bar one of these power stations are expected to shut by 2030.

Nuclear power is also one the cheaper forms of low carbon electricity, reducing pressures on consumer electricity bills, relative to a low carbon energy mix without new nuclear, while emitting similar levels of CO2 to renewables over the life of the plant.

So as we set out in our Conservative party manifesto, we are committed to a significant expansion in new nuclear in the UK.

Government has prepared the way for new nuclear power stations through a package of reforms and regulatory measures that remove barriers to investment and give developers the confidence to take forward projects that will help deliver secure, low carbon and affordable energy. We have also made sure that operators of new nuclear power stations put in place robust plans and finance for managing their waste and decommissioning right from the outset.

You will no doubt be aware of the recent progress for UK new build.

The first new nuclear power station in a generation moved an important step closer last year, as the European Commission announced on 8th October 2014 that it has approved the Hinkley Point C State aid case. We are continuing to work together with EDF to finalise the documentation for the Hinkley Point C project. The power station is expected to start generating electricity from 2023.

In total, industry has set out plans for five new nuclear projects in the UK, for a total of up to 16 gigawatts of new nuclear capacity, providing around 35% of electricity generation. That level of new build could, by 2030, lead to an estimated 40 million tonnes of CO2 emissions savings, gross private investment of £89 billion (2014 prices), and around 35,000 jobs supported at the peak of construction.

The Government is clear that the UK remains open for business. We welcome high quality investment from overseas. The nuclear programme represents a tremendous opportunity to establish the UK as a key nuclear country, with – importantly – the potential to export our capabilities to other countries: including in decommissioning, an area in which we are already a world leader. These international opportunities offer prospects of developing our domestic supply chain and realising economies of scale. It is also an opportunity to make the UK an attractive partner for international R&D collaboration.

Small Modular Reactors are an option we are investigating further. These have the potential to drive down the cost of nuclear energy and make financing easier through shorter construction times and lower initial capital investment requirements, in addition to high-value commercial opportunities. However, since SMRs are in the early stages of development, there are no commercially operational examples that can be used to validate this potential. So Government has initiated work to build a greater factual base on SMRs, following the feasibility study of last year.

The success of our nuclear programme is dependent on three key elements:

– working in partnership, and I look forward to working with you to further our ambition for a competitive and vibrant world-class UK nuclear industry.

– the successful delivery of the new nuclear fleet will be a strong domestic workforce and supply chain. The opportunities are huge. For example, Hinkley Point C will inject £16 billion into the economy – with the potential for British firms to get the majority of the work. Government is working closely with the developers to identify further opportunities for the UK supply chain. Also the standing of the Supply Chain Partnership will help engage UK Small and Medium Size Enterprises (SME’s) on some of the opportunities from the new build programmes.

In order to deliver this ambitious new build programme on time and on budget, a skilled workforce will be essential. The scale of the industry’s new build aspirations, the length of time since the last new build project and the high average age of the existing nuclear workforce mean that it is essential to take action now to prevent skills gaps developing over the course of the new nuclear programme. Government recognises that this is a significant challenge, particularly with the on-going need to maintain and decommission existing nuclear power stations.

There are a number of Government initiatives in place to help support industry fill the skills gaps such as Degree Level Apprenticeships, “Trailblazers” – an initiative which showcases talent and leadership in the sector to inspire the next generation of skilled nuclear engineers and the National College for Nuclear. Specifically, the National College for Nuclear will work collaboratively with the wider industry, skills bodies and training providers and will utilise international best practice to develop an industry-wide curriculum.

Turning now to the vital matter of a geological disposal facility. With plans for 16GW of new nuclear capacity in the UK, government is firmly committed to delivering geological disposal as the safest and most secure means of managing our higher-activity waste in the long term. We need a permanent solution following more than 60 years of producing radioactive waste from various sources including electricity generation from nuclear power.

Taking forward a geological disposal facility will also support new generations of nuclear power stations in the UK by providing a safe way to dispose of the waste they produce.

My department and our delivery body, Radioactive Waste Management Limited are currently delivering the commitments set out in our 2014 White Paper, including plans to engage the public further on the important issues of community representation and national geological screening over the coming months.

So in conclusion, I am confident that the key investment decision on Hinkley C will happen soon which will enable construction to start, and I recognise, of course, that the nuclear sector as a whole places enormous importance on reaching this significant milestone.

And as the new Minister of State for Energy, I want to assure you that I aim to see the UK nuclear industry flourish as a global leader, so that together we can achieve secure, low carbon and affordable energy that will underpin the future success of the UK economy.

Andrea Leadsom – 2014 Speech at Business Banking Insight Survey

Below is the text of the speech made by Andrea Leadsom, the Economic Secretary to the Treasury, made on 28th May 2014.

Introduction

Thank you.

Well firstly, by way of introduction I am Andrea Leadsom, the new Economic Secretary to the Treasury.

And – somewhat confusingly – while I’ve taken on the title of Economic Secretary left by Nicky Morgan, who became Financial Secretary. I’ve actually taken on the brief left by Sajid Javid – the former Financial Secretary – when he moved into the Cabinet.

So I’m now the Minister responsible for issues relating to banking and the financial services.

And I approach both this portfolio – and this issue before us today – as someone with a very keen interest.

I’ve spent the last four years on the Treasury Select Committee – following the government’s work closely.

And before that, I spent the previous twenty five years – prior to becoming an MP – working in the financial sector.

And if I bring one big passion to this role, if I have one big goal in this role, it’s making sure that our financial system – and our banking system – works in the best possible way for its consumers.

And I think this survey – which was first commissioned by the Chancellor – can play a key role in making that system work for SMEs.

Before I go into detail about the survey though, I’d like to spend a little time first – reflecting on exactly why increasing competition is so important, and secondly – providing some context, by explaining how this survey fits into wider government action on the issue.

Competition in Financial Services

One of my favourite statistics – and it’s a statistic I’ve been quoting long before I got this job – is that people in the UK are more likely to get a divorce than they are to change bank.

But the fact that we’re more wedded to our banks than we are to the people we’re wedded to isn’t because we’re all incredibly happy in our banking relationships.

It’s because of a fundamental lack of competition in the banking system.

And that lack of competition isn’t limited to individual current accounts, or savings accounts.

At present, the largest four banks account for over 80% of UK SMEs’ main banking relationships.

And we believe that such high concentration levels are bad for consumers and bad for businesses.

So we are absolutely committed to fostering a stronger, more diverse and more competitive banking sector, because greater competition will mean better outcomes for consumers:

– it will mean more inventive products, tailored to specific customer needs

– it will mean more competitive products, on interest or charges

– and it will mean more innovative, convenient forms of customer interaction, in areas such as mobile payments and cheque imaging

Our action to improve competition

So what are we doing about it? We’re taking action in a number of areas to make the sector more competitive:

22 months ago, the Chancellor asked the FSA to conduct a review of barriers to entry and expansion in the banking sector, which resulted in major changes to the capital requirements for new banks, making it easier for them to enter the market and compete

we introduced legislation in the Banking Reform Bill to create a new payment systems regulator, which will ensure that smaller banks and non-bank providers can get fair access to payments systems, driving innovation and choice for consumers

and the 7 day switching service is making it much easier for consumers to move their bank accounts, and helping to put an end to banks assuming their account holders will stay with them because it’s too complicated to change

On top of all that, we’ve made promoting effective competition in the interests of consumers one the FCA’s key objectives.

And we’ll soon be introducing legislation for a number of new measures in this area, including improving access to SME credit data, which will enhance the ability of challenger banks and alternative finance providers to conduct accurate risk assessments, and make it easier SMEs to seek a loan from another lender.

We also have proposals to help to match those SMEs that want to secure loans with those challenger banks and alternative finance providers who want to provide them.

All of which are moves that will make the sector more competitive, and give consumers more choice.

Transparency in the sector

Key to improving competition is improving transparency.

In SME banking, our key change has been the obligation to publish postcode lending data, which is promoting greater competition and enabling smaller lenders – both banks and non-banks – to see where there is unmet demand and pursue new business.

In particular, it has highlighted the more deprived areas where larger banks are often not willing to lend, and that will enable:

– challenger banks

– smaller building societies

– credit unions and

– Community Development Finance Institutions

…to move into these areas, and to offer finance to those customers who are crying out for support to help their business grow.

Business Banking Insight survey

So we have identified problems.

And – more importantly – we are identifying solutions.

And this new survey – and its findings – will play a key role in helping us to build on that action.

It is – as many of you will know – the first survey of its kind to look at the performance of Britain’s banking sector, as perceived by Britain’s business people who own and run their companies.

And it will help to provide an insight into, and a ranking of, the best banking institutions and products and services for Britain’s micro, small and medium sized businesses.

So, for example, a tech start-up in Edinburgh looking to move to bigger premises will be able to see which bank offers the best loan facilities.

Or a microbrewery in my constituency of Northamptonshire looking to sell its product in Europe will be able to see which bank offers the best Export Finance facilities.

The hope is that with that improved knowledge, SMEs will have an improved incentive to switch providers to those banks that are best placed to provide the support and the services they need.

And not only will it be a great tool for them. It will also allow Britain’s banks to see what their customers really think of their performance, and allow them to target areas for improvement.

By allowing them to see areas in which their competitors are offering better, smarter, and more popular products. And also areas where their customers aren’t happy with the service they offer.

And the upshot of all that should be better competition, better products, and – most importantly – a better environment for British businesses to go about their work.

Conclusion

So I’m very glad to be here this morning.

I’m particularly delighted to be launching a survey – as commissioned by the Chancellor – that will genuinely help businesses to vote with their feet on which bank is best for them.

And I’m very much looking forward to working with all of you to help drive improvement in this area over the next twelve months. And hearing any ideas you might have that could make it even more useful for British businesses.

But before that, I’ll be very interested to hear about all the findings of the survey. Thank you.