A call for parliamentary candidates to back nuclear power’s role in tackling climate change has been welcomed by an industry body in Cumbria.

The Nuclear Industry Association (NIA) has published a “Priorities for Government” document, setting out five key steps to support nuclear’s role in helping to achieve the legally-binding Net Zero 2050 target, while at the same time creating jobs and boosting long-term skills.

It is demanding a clear energy policy that sets out goals for nuclear and establishes a financial regime that makes nuclear developments attractive to investors, along with commitment to maximise opportunities for UK businesses.

The NIA also wants a “progressive” decommissioning programme, a boost to careers in STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and maths) and greater support for innovation and new nuclear technologies and fuels.

An influential group of academics, trade unions, professional bodies and non-governmental organisations involved in the energy industry have put their name to the document, which has been sent to all parliamentary candidates by the NIA.

It has been welcomed by Britain’s Energy Coast Business Cluster (BECBC), which represents more than 300 businesses, the vast majority involved in the county’s nuclear sector.

Cumbria is home to the UK’s largest concentration of nuclear facilities and the civil nuclear industry’s biggest workforce.

“We need a Government both nationally and at local level which recognises the significant contribution the nuclear industry can make both economically and environmentally,” said BECBC executive director John Grainger.

“Cumbria is at the heart of this being the largest regional player by some measure.

“If the UK is to meet its 2050 carbon commitment, nuclear is an absolute must. Cumbria along with its partners across the North, along with Wales, has the sites, the infrastructure, the laboratories, the supply chain and the academic institutions.

“We have a complete offering unrivalled anywhere in Europe.”

The NIA’s chief executive Tom Greatrex stressed the importance of nuclear power, which generates 20 per cent of the nation’s electricity, and its economic contribution, with the industry supporting high-quality 65,000 jobs – with around a quarter of those based in Cumbria.

And while he hailed progress being made at the new nuclear power station Hinkley Point C in Somerset, he lamented the collapse of the Moorside development in Cumbria and mothballing of other projects in Anglesey and Gloucestershire.

NuGen’s plans for a £15 billion power station at Moorside, which is adjacent to Sellafield, were abandoned in no small part, due to a lack of clarity on financial support from the UK Government.

“There is currently a hiatus in much needed investment”, says Greatrex.

“Progress depends on a new approach to financing being implemented promptly. This can deliver the investment needed, and just as importantly bring down the price paid by electricity consumers.

“Building new power stations and growing the nuclear industry will secure long-lasting economic benefit and develop strong relationships with trading partners across the globe.”

On the wider role of nuclear, he added: “We have to maintain the growth in renewables, but a move away from fossil fuels means weather-dependent sources of power need the low carbon backbone of stable energy that nuclear provides.

“The next parliamentary term will be crucial for our energy infrastructure.”

Hopes remain high that either a large-scale power station, or Small Modular Reactors (SMRs), will be build at Moorside, while Sellafield and Fellside have also been touted as potential sites to host SMRs – which are, as the name suggests, smaller, cheaper to manufacture and can be constructed off-site.

Rolls-Royce, which is leading a consortium looking to develop a first-of-a-kind SMR, has already outlined its ambition to site them in the county.

Meanwhile, the Government has completed consultation on adapting the Regulated Asset Base model, which has already been used in the UK to finance electricity, gas, telecoms and transport infrastructure.

The model sees consumers foot the bill for construction costs, along with any overruns, although the strike price of the energy generated should be lower.