Nuclear power back on UK generation agenda

The Government has backed a return to nuclear power as ministers pledge support for a new generation of nuclear reactors to generate electricity.

The Energy Review stated that nuclear power would make a "significant contribution" to the energy requirements of the UK.

The Trade and Industry Secretary Alistair Darling told the House of Commons that the private sector would "initiate, fund, construct and operate" the new breed of nuclear power stations. Investors would also cover the decommissioning costs and share the expense of long term management of waste.

Mr Blair, accompanied by Alistair Darling and Environment Secretary David Miliband, on a visit to an offshore wind farm off the coast of Whitstable in Kent, said nuclear power would be part of the solution.

"Yes, we've got to do more of the renewables but we also have to do everything. It's not a question of either/or, it's everything that's got to be done to make a difference.''

He said the Government wanted to see renewable energy grow by five times in the next 15 years.

Mr Blair added: "We're about to move to a situation of importing energy. We have to at least replace our nuclear power stations. These decisions have to be taken now. Fifteen years down the line we have got high energy prices and real problems.

"Everyone will concentrate on nuclear but one of the reasons for coming here is to say nuclear is part of the answer, it's not the only answer.''

However, ministers stressed that although nuclear power was an option, they wanted to see this used with a mix of renewable energy sources, such as wind, tidal, and solar power.

Steps will also be taken to cut down the demand for electricity by measures to reduce the amount of electricity required for consumer devices.

The Energy Review indicated that around one third of the current power generation capacity will reach the end if its life.

Mr Darling said that this was a critical moment to make informed choices which would determine the safeguarding of power supplies for the next 30 to 40 years.

A Government white paper is expected to be published before the end of the year.

The Irish Government's Environment Minister Dick Roche, referring to concerns about Sellafield, said he and his colleagues were "disappointed" and would be making their concerns known to the British Government.


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