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Nuclear plays ‘vital’ role in UK economy, statistics show

The UK's Nuclear Industry Association (NIA) has welcomed new official data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) which it said shows the "vital contribution nuclear power generation makes to the economy". The statistics, released for the first time and part of the low-carbon and renewable energy data series, show nuclear generation and new build activities contributed £3.5 billion ($5.0 billion) to the economy in 2014, with 15,500 people employed full time.

Last year the ONS launched a new survey collecting data on the Low-Carbon and Renewable Energy (LCRE) economy. The first high-level results were published in December 2015. The ONS said, "in order to produce timely estimates and be responsive to demand for greater detail", this is the second in a series of sector specific articles prior to final results scheduled to be published next month.

In the article providing estimates of activity in the nuclear power sector in 2014, the ONS said that almost a quarter of low-carbon electricity group acquisitions of capital assets were in the nuclear power sector. The sector accounts for a greater proportion of the low-carbon economy in Scotland than in England for both turnover and full-time equivalent employees, it said.

Tom Greatrex, chief executive of the Nuclear Industry Association, said: "The nuclear sector has played an important role in keeping the lights on across the UK for over 50 years. These official statistics highlight the continued economic contribution of existing nuclear power generation operations. Significantly, the statistics do not include the level of employment in decommissioning and nuclear supply chain with the NIA's authoritative jobs map putting the level of employment in the UK at 63,500."

Shadow energy minister in the last Parliament and leading the NIA since February, Greatrex added: "While some commentators pit low-carbon technologies against each other, each has a role to play and must work together if the UK is to replace the ageing generation plant, improve security of supply and reduce our carbon emission in line with legally binding targets. To meet the UK's objective of a secure low-carbon generation mix, new nuclear will need to be part of a broad mix for the future."

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