EDF chief executive Vincent de Rivaz said lessons would be learned and applied to nuclear facilities in the UK

Appearing on yesterday’s Andrew Marr show, EDF chief executive Vincent de Rivaz said: “It is a very serious accident and there is no doubt that there will be consequences. As an industry, as part of our DNA we have to learn. All the lessons will be put into practice in our nuclear plants in Britain and it is very important for me that our people are ready to learn.

“We have already taken some decisions – backup systems have been reviewed, refreshing training, emergency plan – and we have in place, without waiting for the full review of the events in Japan, some practices to be ready to learn all the lessons.

“And the fact that I would say the circumstances in Japan are so different in terms of earthquake and tsunami doesn’t mean that we have not lessons to learn.”

De Rivaz praised the UK’s “measured” response to the developing situation in Japan and said the government was right to avoid a knee-jerk reaction.

But he signalled no pause in the development of nuclear facilities in the UK. “Our plans have to go ahead because you know we have been through years and years of debate in this country reaching this consensus about the needs of nuclear, part of a diverse energy mix, and the question for us is how to go ahead without underestimating the consequences of the events.”

EDF operates 15 of the UK’s 19 nuclear reactors and is scheduled to build the first four new reactors with UK partner Centrica. It is investing £18bn in the four reactors and it needs to make a final investment decision on the first, at Hinkley Point, early next year. That reactor is due to enter service in 2018.