Britain and France are to sign a civil nuclear energy deal on Friday, as UK Prime Minister David Cameron meets President Nicolas Sarkozy in Paris. The British government claims the deal will create thousands of jobs.
"As two great civil nuclear nations, we will combine our expertise to strengthen industrial partnership, improve nuclear safety and create jobs at home,” a statement by Cameron said. “The deals signed today will create more than 1,500 jobs in the UK."
French nuclear giant Areva is pioneering development of the modern EPR reactor, but Cameron said that British firms would make "the vast majority of the content of our new nuclear plants".
British engineering firm Rolls-Royce will secure a £400 million (481 million euro) share in the work to build Britain's first EPR at Hinkley Point in southern England and will build a factory in Rotherham in the north.
There will also be a commitment to build other EPR sites in the UK.
France’s EDF will conclude a 100 million pound (120 million euro) agreement with Keir/BAM Nutall for preliminary work at Hinkley Point.
EDF will invest 15 million pounds (18 million euros) in a training campus nearby.
Cameron said that the deal was “just the beginning” and could lead to the creation of 30,000 jobs.
British Energy Secretary Ed Davey, who travelled with Cameron to Paris, said there were plans for nuclear development in five British counties.
Nuclear power provides about 75 per cent of France’s electricity.
Although France and Britain fell out over how to tackle the economic crisis in Europe last year, they both back nuclear power, in contrast to Germany, which has decided to phase it out in the wake of Japan’s Fukushima nuclear disaster.
Sarkozy, who is standing for reelection, has slammed his Socialist rival François Hollande’s proposal to reduce the country’s reliance on nuclear energy.