UK nuclear generators to pay "full share" of costs of new projects

8 January 2008 - The UK government has insisted that the full costs of waste disposal and decommissioning from a new generation of nuclear power stations will be met from nuclear generators' revenues, according to newspaper reports.

A new era of nuclear power is expected to get the go-ahead on Thursday when the government publishes the results of a second period of public consultation on the issue.

According to the Financial Times, a spokesman for Prime Minister Gordon Brown said private companies would pay their "full share" of the costs of the new projects.

"We have always been clear that if the government decides new nuclear should be an option, operators should set aside funds for their full share of the cost of the long-term management of waste and the full cost of decommissioning," said the spokeman at the Department of Business, Enterprise and Regulation (DBERR).

London said it would collect fees from the power companies, which will build up a fund to pay for the costs of decommissioning and waste management. This fund should be comfortably in excess of the relevant costs, said DBERR.

The government will still pay for a large new nuclear waste vault, which will be used to store "legacy" waste from past nuclear power generation. Nuclear generators would pay to lease space in the vault.

If this vault had to be extended or enlarged to house waste from the new nuclear reactors, this would have to be funded by the energy companies themselves, DBERR said.

A large sum will also be paid to the local community around the new waste repository, although the government has dismissed as inaccurate a figure of £1bn ($1.97bn) suggested in one newspaper. Sellafield in Cumbria is widely seen as the most likely site, although its geological suitability has been challenged.

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