UK: Nuclear power plants get go-ahead


Richard Moore

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Nuclear power plants get go-ahead

The go-ahead has been given for a new wave of UK nuclear power stations.

Industry secretary Alistair Darling told MPs nuclear power needed to be part of 
the mix of energy supply for the UK over the next 40 years.

The Conservatives say nuclear power should only be a "last resort". The Liberal 
Democrats accuse ministers of "surrendering" to the nuclear lobby.

Tony Blair says new nuclear power stations will reduce future reliance on 
imports and help tackle climate change.

In a Commons statement on the Energy Review, Mr Darling said: "The government 
has concluded that new nuclear power stations could make a significant 
contribution to meeting our energy policy goals.

"It would be for the private sector to initiate, fund, construct and operate new
nuclear plants and cover the costs of decommissioning and their full share of 
long term waste management costs."

"Safety and security" would be "paramount" with nuclear plants, he promised.

"Nuclear does mean we can generate electricity without carbon emissions. It does
provide a consistency of energy which wind power cannot," he said.

Mr Darling stressed that "a mix of energy supply is essential and we should not 
be over dependent on one source".

The plans would help meet the government's target of cutting carbon emissions by
60% by 2050, he said.

And they would ensure the UK had secure energy supplies rather than relying 
increasingly on foreign gas imports.

The review also proposes:
€  That electricity companies provide 20% of energy from renewables - up from 
the current 15%
€  Storing carbon dioxide in old oil fields - the UK is working with Norway to 
develop this
€  New incentives to make homes more energy efficient and to cut energy waste by
€  Measures to cut the 7% of electricity currently used by domestic appliances 
left on standby
€  Encouraging smaller scale electricity generators, and combined heat and power
plants, to be sited close to where the power is used

For the Conservatives, shadow trade and industry secretary Alan Duncan said Mr 
Darling's statement contained "no real policies, no real action, no real 

He said the review showed Mr Blair was "out on a limb" in his backing for new 
nuclear power stations - a position, he claimed, that was not shared by the 

Fresh look

Edward Davey, the Lib Dems' trade and industry spokesman, warned: "By caving 
into the nuclear industry lobby, you have destroyed the possibility of 
cross-party consensus."

London Mayor Ken Livingstone said it was "a colossal mistake" to head down the 
nuclear path again.

"We need a solution to the climate change that protects the environment rather 
than threatens it, and one that does not literally cost the earth," said Mr 

It's not a question of either/or - it's everything that's got to be done to make
a difference

Tony Blair

Green Party Principal Speaker Keith Taylor said: "Alistair Darling has today led
the UK down a dirty and dangerous path, that of a fresh round of astronomically 
expensive nuclear power stations."

An Energy White Paper in 2003 said better efficiency and investment in renewable
forms of energy was the way ahead for the UK.

But the prime minister ordered a policy review last November, saying a fresh 
look was needed at how the UK could ensure it had a secure energy supply and 
meet its targets for fighting global warming.

The review has been criticised for purely "rubber stamping" Mr Blair's own wish 
for developing nuclear.

But the prime minister told BBC Two's Newsnight: "If we're going to go from 
being self-sufficient in gas to importing it, if prices are rising, if we know 
that climate change is an even more serious problem than we thought a few years 
ago, how can we take nuclear out of the mix?"

During a visit to an offshore wind farm near Whitstable, Kent, Mr Blair said he 
wanted to see renewables grow by five times in the next 15 years.

"It's not a question of either/or - it's everything that's got to be done to 
make a difference," he said.

Nuclear will cost us billions of pounds that can be better spent on a massive 
nationwide renewables program.

Rob, London

As well as opposition from the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats, the nuclear 
power proposals have also come under fire from a number of Labour MPs.

Former environment minister Michael Meacher asked: "Why are we going down the 
nuclear route at all? Nuclear is more expensive and decommissioning costs are 

Members of SERA, the Labour environment campaign, said nuclear power could not 
contribute to tackling climate change over the next 10 years.

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2006/07/11 21:28:59 GMT


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