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Pledge from PM on redeployment of Dounreay skills

By Gordon Calder

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PRIME Minister Theresa May is "absolutely committed" to supporting the far north and the staff affected by the rundown of Dounreay.

She gave the pledge to Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross MP Jamie Stone after he urged the UK Government to work closely with the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, site management and the trade unions to ensure the redeployment of skills takes place.

Speaking in the House of Commons, the Liberal Democrat MP said: "At Dounreay we have a skills pool that is second to none. As the site continues to decommission, it is vital that we redeploy those skills to the maximum benefit of the local economy and the UK economy.

"Can the Prime Minister give me an undertaking that the Government will work very closely with the management at Dounreay, the relevant local trade unions and the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority to make sure that redeployment of skills actually happens to the benefit of the UK?"

A view of the Dounreay site from January this year. Picture: DSRL / NDA
A view of the Dounreay site from January this year. Picture: DSRL / NDA

Replying, Mrs May said she recognised this is "a time of concern for staff at Dounreay" and continued: "It is important that we recognise the skills that have been developed there and make sure we take every opportunity to put them to the benefit not just of local people but of the United Kingdom.

"We welcome Dounreay Site Restoration’s statement of support for its staff and its intention to support them through a transition into other employment. I understand that it will develop training and support programmes to put individuals in the strongest possible position to move into another local job in one of the growing local industries, such as space or renewable energy."

The Prime Minister added: "We remain absolutely committed to supporting the region and the staff affected. We will continue to work with the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, Dounreay Site Restoration Ltd, Cavendish Nuclear, Jacobs and AECOM [ American multinational engineering firm] during this time."

Afterwards, Mr Stone said: "In the past Dounreay brought great good to the far north. As the site is taken apart, it is absolutely crucial that we put in place high-quality replacement local jobs. To do this we must all work together and this includes the Government, site management and the NDA and also the trade unions who will have their own input.

"Mrs May gave me a full answer – including the potential of space launch – but this doesn’t get away from the fact that the future jobs issue is a pot that must be kept on the boil."

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