Millions for region in landmark nuclear agreement

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A landmark civil nuclear energy agreement between Britain and France is due to be signed today in a move expected to bring millions of pounds into Yorkshire’s economy.

The contract marks the start of work on a new wave of power plants across the UK, with deals worth more than £500m to be agreed between British and French companies.

Central to the plans is the proposed Rolls-Royce factory at the Advanced Manufacturing Park, on the Sheffield-Rotherham border, which will play an important role in a £400m deal agreed between the engineering giant and French firm Areva to supply services to the first European Pressurised Reactor at Hinkley Point in Somerset.

Meanwhile, France’s EDF will conclude a £100m agreement with Keir/BAM Nuttall for preliminary works at Hinkley Point.

David Cameron, who will today meet President Nicolas Sarkozy in Paris, said the deals were “just the beginning” of investment which the Government believes could be worth £60bn and create 30,000 jobs.

“At our last summit, we signed a historic partnership on defence,” he said. “Today, we will match that ambition on nuclear energy.

“As two great civil nuclear nations, we will combine our expertise to strengthen industrial partnership, improve nuclear safety and create jobs at home.

“The deals signed today will create more than 1,500 jobs in the UK but they are just the beginning.

“My goal is clear. I want the vast majority of the content of our new nuclear plants to be constructed, manufactured and engineered by British companies. And we will choose the partners and technologies to maximise the economic benefits to the UK.

“Today marks an important first step towards that. A good deal for Britain and a good deal for France.”

Mr Cameron will travel to Paris with Energy Secretary Ed Davey, who was promoted to the Cabinet a fortnight ago after his Liberal Democrat colleague Chris Huhne was charged with perverting the course of justice.

They will be joined by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, Foreign Secretary William Hague and Defence Secretary Philip Hammond, who are all expected to meet their French counterparts.

Developments in the Middle East will be on the agenda, as Mr Cameron and Mr Sarkozy, who worked closely together in last year’s UN-backed military operation in Libya, intend to discuss the ongoing crisis in Syria.

Mr Cameron said: “Our commercial relationship is deep and growing, with exports increasing and French investment sustaining almost 10,000 jobs in the UK.

“Our militaries are working together on cutting-edge military technology.”