Stay up to date with notifications from The Independent

Notifications can be managed in browser preferences.

Nuclear fuel gets £300m boost as ministers say Putin will not hold UK to ransom

UK bids to be first European nation outside Russia to produce crucial uranium needed for the next generation of reactor

Kate Devlin
Sunday 07 January 2024 17:17 GMT
Defence Secretary Grant Shapps confirm transfer of two naval minehunters to Ukraine

The UK is to launch a £300m drive to push Vladimir Putin further out of the global energy market through an investment in hi-tech nuclear fuel.

Ministers will vow to end what they say is Russia’s reign as the only commercial producer of a type of enriched uranium needed for the next generation of reactors.

It comes as the world prepares for the second anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine next month.

The UK has warned Russia that if casualties continue at their current rate it will have lost over half a million personnel in the conflict by the end of 2024.

The war also triggered a shock in the world’s energy markets leading the government to rethink Britain’s energy security.

Energy secretary Claire Coutinho said ministers would not allow Putin to “hold us to ransom on nuclear fuel”.

“Britain gave the world its first operational nuclear power plant, and now we will be the first nation in Europe outside of Russia to produce advanced nuclear fuel,” she said.

“This will be critical for energy security at home and abroad and builds on Britain’s historic competitive advantages.”

The government says the plans will help build new supplies of affordable and clean domestic power.

It will involve a £300m investment in high-assay low-enriched uranium (HALEU).

The programme will provide jobs and investment in the northwest of England, as part of plans to deliver a quarter of the UK’s electricity needs through nuclear power by 2050.

Another £10m will be used to develop the skills and sites needed to produce other advanced nuclear fuels in the UK.

Ministers argue the move will help the transition to net zero and will not mean higher prices for consumers.

The UK has agreed with other G7 nuclear partners to reduce global dependence on Russian fuel.

On Saturday, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) said that the average daily number of Russian casualties in Ukraine rose by almost 300 during the course of last year.

“If the numbers continue at the current rate over the next year, Russia will have lost over half a million personnel in Ukraine,” it added.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in