UK nuclear power stations ‘could be forced to close’ after Brexit

Leaving Euratom treaty will shut down nuclear industry if international safety agreements are not made in time, MPs told

Nuclear power stations would be forced to shut down if a new measures are not in place when Britain quits a European atomic power treaty in 2019, an expert has warned.

Rupert Cowen, a senior nuclear energy lawyer at Prospect Law, told MPs on Tuesday that leaving the Euratom treaty as the government has promised could see trade in nuclear fuel grind to a halt.

The UK government has said it will exit Euratom when article 50 is triggered. The treaty promotes cooperation and research into nuclear power, and uniform safety standards.

Unlike other arrangements, if we dont get this right, business stops. There will be no trade. If we cant arrive at safeguards and other principles that allow compliance [with international nuclear standards] to be demonstrated, no nuclear trade will be able to continue.

Asked by the chair of the Commons business, energy and industrial strategy select committee if that would see reactors switching off, he said: Ultimately, when their fuels runs out, yes. Cowen said that in his view there was no legal requirement for the UK to leave Euratom because of Brexit: Its a political issue, not a legal issue.

The UK nuclear industry would be crippled if new nuclear cooperation deals are not agreed within two years, a former government adviser told the committee.

Euratom explainer

There is a plethora of international agreements that would have to be struck that almost mirror those in place with Euratom, before we moved not just material but intellectual property, services, anything in the nuclear sector. We would be crippled without other things in place, said Dame Sue Ion, chair of the Nuclear Innovation and Research Advisory Board, which was established by the government in 2013.

She said movement of the industrys best intellectual talent was made easier by the UKs membership of Euratom.

The government said it was working on alternative arrangements to Euratom. Describing the notification of withdrawal as a regrettable necessity when article 50 is triggered, energy minister Jesse Norman said that the UK saw clear routes outside of Euratom to address issues such as the trade of nuclear materials.

We take this extremely seriously and are devoting serious resources [to looking at new arrangements], he told the Lords science and technology committee on Tuesday.

Tom Greatrex, chief executive of the Nuclear Industry Association, said there was a lot to be done to put in place transitional measures replacing Euratom.

What were collectively warning about is the potential for there to be a very hard two-year period during which there are lots of other things the government has to deal with, that could leave it in a position where some of these things arent in place, he said. Greatrex said one possible option was an associate membership of Euratom.

Over the weekend, the GMB union called on ministers to reconsider their foolhardy rush to leave the treaty, claiming it could endanger the UKs entire nuclear future.

But the Office for Nuclear Regulation argued there could even be be some positives to leaving Euratom, such as a reduction in bureaucracy. If we relinquish Euratom there would be reduced burden from not having to comply with directives, said David Senior, an ONR executive.

Norman also promised a decision was due soon on the next stage of a delayed multimillion-pound government competition for mini nuclear reactors, known as small modular reactors. I love the projects and ideas but I want to be shown the value, he told the peers.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/business/2017/feb/28/british-nuclear-power-stations-could-be-forced-to-close-after-brexit

Deportation orders threaten Trump’s own turf: the real estate market

Immigrants represent a large share of the demand supporting house values, says a demographics expert amid warnings the system could be tested

Is Donald Trump, the property tycoon turned president, about to bust the housing market? Thats potentially one of the unanticipated impacts of the Trump administrations crackdown on illegal immigration, according to demographics experts and immigrants rights groups.

The effect of the mass deportations outlined in Department of Homeland Security memos released this week may not only affect real estate values at the lower and middle end of the housing market, they warn: they could resonate up to the top of the housing chain, testing the entire system in ways that are both novel and not clearly understood.

There are consequences for the economy and the whole of society, and the public doesnt understand the value immigrants bring to the housing market, warns Dowell Myers, director of the Population Dynamics Research Group at the University of California.

They represent a large share of the demand supporting house values. If you were to subtract any part of that demand, it would jeopardize house values across the board.

In a comprehensive 2013 study, Immigrant Contributions to Housing Demand in the United States, Myers estimated that in this decade, immigrants nationwide will account for 32.2% of the growth in all households, 35.7% of growth in homeowners and 26.4% of growth in renter households.

The study found that the volume of growth in foreign-born homeowners has increased each decade, rising from 0.8 million added immigrant homeowners in the United States during the period from 19801990 to 2.8 million in the current decade.

While immigrants were once concentrated in a few gateway states, such as California, New York and Florida, the pattern of immigration after the 2007 economic crash is less concentrated, making the economic effect of mass deportation less easy to predict.

According to Alex Nowrasteh, a policy analyst for the Cato Institute, the effect of an immigrant crackdown on property values has already been seen, albeit on a small scale, after Arizona passed its controversial SB 1070 and Legal Arizona Workers Act.

Two hundred thousand people left because of those immigration laws at the same time as we had a housing collapse. So Phoenix suffered more than any other city except for Las Vegas, Nowrasteh says. We saw a huge increase in rental vacancies and a decline in home prices immediately after these laws were passed.

Immigrants, he says, have a disproportionate effect on the housing market because they rent property and buy houses. So now Trump wants to do nationally what the Arizona immigration laws did to the Phoenix housing market.

In California, the state with the largest immigrant population, a sustained crackdown on immigration could not only affect the lower end of the market but, in some areas, the top end of the market as well.

Its pretty clear what will happen, warns Myers. One way that people afford houses is by pooling incomes. So if you were to deport one of the three mortgage payers, that can destabilize the whole rest of the household. Immigrants are so interwoven into many communities that when you unravel one thread, you can destabilize it entirely.

House values, he considers, are like a pyramid. If you pull out a chunk from the bottom, the pyramid starts to collapse. The loss of the immigrants coming in at the bottom end doesnt directly affect prices in Beverly Hills or Silicon Valley but it will undermine the whole structure of pricing in a way that hasnt been tested before.

Myers report, published by the Research Institute for Housing America, corresponds with a report issued last year by the real estate website Trulia that found that the homeownership gap between native-born and immigrant homeowners has shrunk over the past two decades.

That gap is about 15 percentage points, down from nearly 21 points 15 years ago. While the rate of US homeownership stands at 66%, homeownership for foreign-born nationals has risen about 2.3 percentage points to more than half.

Critics of the Trump immigration orders say the value of the immigrant housing market is often overlooked, in part because undocumented workers who nonetheless qualify for mortgages are frequently not identified as such in official figures.

Further analysis by the Washington-based Migration Policy Institute found that 33%, or 3.4 million, of the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the US own their homes or live with family members or friends who do.

In a separate study, the Migration Policy Institute estimates that about a million undocumented immigrants in the US hold college-level degrees.

Its wrong to think of undocumented homeowners as people working in low-skilled jobs and living together in a marginal neighborhood, says the institute director, Michael Fix. A large share, around 60%, of college-educated undocumented immigrants are working in middle- or high-skilled jobs.

The real danger here is the long-term chilling of immigration flows, legal and illegal, into the country, and that would be felt in our housing market, and people do not properly appreciate that almost half the number of recent immigrants to the US are college graduates.

A further consideration, says Fix, is that infrastructure projects, including a border wall, could be complicated by immigrant deportation efforts. Undocumented immigrants, in particular men, typically enjoy very high rates of employment as high as 95%.

While its residential projects that typically hire unauthorized immigrants, there will still be ripple effects on big public projects. They may not be undone, but they will certainly be complicated, Fix says.

According to a Pew Research projection, future immigrants and their descendants will account for 88% of the US population increase, or 103 million people, between 2015 and 2065.

Those figures alone should give the administration pause for thought, say analysts, since immigrant-driven housing demand will be needed to buoy the market as native-born baby boomers as move into retirement.

The housing market may not be the first concern, but President Trumps immigration orders could destabilize whole communities, says Myers. Were not playing around here. This is a serious business. Its pretty clear what could happen.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/feb/23/trump-deportation-immigrants-real-estate

Global arms trade reaches highest point since cold war era

Middle East almost doubles weapons imports, as US and Europe remain the main suppliers and China joins top-tier exporters

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/feb/20/global-arms-weapons-trade-highest-point-since-cold-war-era

Ivanka Trump talks women in business at White House as her own brand falters

Appearance comes after Nordstrom and other retailers rush to drop her product lines amid controversy over her newfound prominence in the White House

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/feb/13/ivanka-trump-white-house-women-business-roundtable

Toshiba fuels fear of crisis after delaying earnings report

Shares plunge 8% after Japanese giant says it is not ready to release details about US nuclear subsidiary Westinghouse

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/business/2017/feb/14/toshiba-fuels-crisis-fears-delays-earnings-writedown-nuclear-westinghouse

Rolls-Royce posts biggest loss in its history

Currency costs from Brexit vote and bribery case settlement force record 4.6bn statutory pre-tax loss for 2016

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/business/2017/feb/14/rolls-royce-posts-largest-loss-in-its-history-after-settling-bribery-charges

Get off the sidelines: businesses can’t play it safe politically in the age of Trump

Consumers and employees want to know where their companies stand on Trumps policies. Heres how businesses should be reacting

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/2017/feb/09/trump-business-brand-super-bowl-nordstrom