Boris Johnson to give speech on energy security amid reports govt will sign off new nuclear plant Sizewell C

·3-min read

Boris Johnson is to make a speech on energy security on Thursday amid reports the government is set to approve funding for a new multi-billion pound nuclear power station in Suffolk.

The prime minister, who has been travelling the UK during his final few days in the job, is expected to make the case for continuing to reduce the country's dependence on foreign fossil fuels and bringing down bills through boosting supplies of home-grown energy.

It comes as reports that Mr Johnson will provide further assurances over the Sizewell C project - a two-reactor nuclear power station which the government says will generate 3.2 gigawatts (GW) of electricity.

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The government has previously said Sizewell C could power the equivalent of around six million homes and generate electricity for 60 years.

It is estimated that the reactor will take just under a decade to build at a cost of around £20bn.

Earlier on Wednesday, speaking in Barrow-in-Furness, the PM refused to be drawn on whether he would sign off on the Sizewell C reactor, saying: "You're going to have to wait and contain your excitement on that until later this week."

Confirmation is expected this week that the government will take a 20% stake in the Sizewell C project in a bid to give confidence to investors about the country's commitment to new nuclear power stations, according to the Financial Times.

The newspaper said French state-owned EDF, the project developer, is set to take another 20% stake as part of efforts to remove a Chinese state-backed nuclear energy company from the project.

During the speech on Thursday, Mr Johnson is expected to outline the British Energy Security Strategy, which focuses on expanding UK energy supply, alongside commitments to completely remove Russian oil and coal imports by the end of 2022 and Russian gas "as soon as possible thereafter".

Read more on Sizewell C:
New nuclear power station granted development consent by the government
Government to take 20% stake in £20bn next-generation scheme
Nuclear project Sizewell C wins £100m government cash injection

The strategy, announced in April, included a pledge to deliver eight new nuclear reactors in the UK, at the pace equivalent to one a year instead of one a decade.

It also aims for the UK to go further and faster on renewables like wind, solar and hydrogen.

Mr Johnson is expected to say: "The situation we face today is deeply worrying, but this government has already stepped in to help with billions of pounds in support.

"And our British Energy Security Strategy is not just about meeting demand today but many years hence.

"The big decisions this government has made on our energy future will bequeath a United Kingdom where energy is cheap, clean, reliable, and plentiful, and made right here on British soil.

"A future where families and businesses are never again at the mercy of international markets or foreign despots."

The government has been accused of being missing in action over the summer recess, while neither of the two remaining Tory leadership candidates Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak has set out in full their plans to help households.

Shadow climate change and net zero secretary Ed Miliband described Mr Johnson's words as "hollow" and "an insult to the millions of families that are facing an energy bills crisis".

"Whilst the oil and gas giants rake in record profits, Boris Johnson and his zombie government put their interests ahead of the British people," Mr Miliband said.

He continued: "Boris Johnson leaves office with energy bills rocketing, our energy security weakened, and having totally failed to confront the climate crisis."

Mr Johnson's successor will be announced as the next party leader and prime minister on Monday 5 September.