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HotSW LEP statement in response to the UKAEA announcement for potential sites for the STEP Fusion Test Reactor

In December 2020, the UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) called for nominations for a site for their STEP fusion test reactor. This process asked for expressions of interest in the form of nominations of land.

A nomination was submitted by Heart of the South West LEP, developed in partnership with the local authorities, and working with key partners including landowners, skills and training providers, local colleges and universities. We are delighted to have heard that we have satisfied the initial eligibility criteria and now move to the next stage of the process.

The STEP demonstrator provides a huge opportunity for Somerset to capitalise on the county’s prominent position in nuclear and would enable a lasting legacy from the investment made in the Hinkley Point C project. It would build upon the nuclear eco-system that we have created of skills, research and development, supply chain excellence and infrastructure. It would solidify the area as a place to invest in innovation, particularly linked to clean energy and sustainable clean growth, and ensure significant long-term prosperity for Somerset West and Taunton, Sedgemoor and the wider Somerset and South West region.

Whilst the siting exercise is expected to be highly competitive, we believe Somerset offers a strong case with the infrastructure, skills base and project delivery experience developed through Hinkley Point C.

To read the announcement on the website, issued today (11 June), read here:

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      David Ralph

      Chief Executive

      David Ralph started as Chief Executive of Heart of South West LEP at the beginning of June 2018. Previously, he had spent 5 years as CEO of the Derby, Derbyshire, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire (D2N2) LEP from 2013 where he oversaw the development of the D2N2 Strategic Economic Plan and sector strategies, 3 Growth Deals with HM Government to deliver a £1billion capital investment programme, securing and implementing £200m ESIF programme, the Derby and Nottingham Enterprise Zone, the D2N2 Skills Deal and Time for Innovation programme, community fund and led the executive team to develop the HS2 East Midlands hub. He was also closely involved in the proposed North Midlands Devolution Deal and one of the key architects in establishing the Midlands Engine, chairing the officer steering group. Whilst in this role David was a NED of the Nottingham Enterprise Zone, and Marketing NG, the Outer Estates Foundation and a Governor of Nottingham College and on the advisory Board of Nottingham Business School.

      Before the East Midlands, David was CEO of the Have Gateway Partnership working closely with local stakeholders including the ports of Felixstowe, Harwich and Ipswich and BT Adadastral Park across Suffolk and Essex and prior to that was Chief Exec of the Barton Hill New Deal for Communities programme in Bristol and the Nelm Development Trust in Norwich.

      David is a keen sailor, walker and trail runner.