Even small delays in licensing, planning and design approvals for new nuclear power stations in the UK could affect the country’s ability to meet its power generation and climate change targets, according to Centrica Head Sam Laidlaw.

Centrica, which has a 20% stake in EDF’s nuclear venture in the UK, along with EDF, has set a target date of 2018 for the UK’s first new nuclear power plant.

Centrica head Sam Laidlaw told the Wall Street Journal that there’s a lot to be done to achieve the target.

The government and industry would need to agree on a carbon price floor to stimulate investment, complete electricity market reform, resolve planning issues and approvals, licence the new reactor technology and agree a funding plan for decommissioning before the new project can move forward.

“The critical thing is to get to the final investment decision by the end of next year,” Laidlaw said.

“The consequences of not meeting that date could be losing our place in the queue for a lot of the large forgings and the other bits of critical long lead-time items.

“Then, it doesn’t become a month-by-month slippage, but a much more significant slippage, which then has consequences for energy security, reserve margins and meeting our climate change objectives.”