10 January 2008 – A new generation of nuclear power stations in the UK has been given formal backing by the government.
In a policy statement to the House of Commons, Business and Enterprise Secretary John Hutton urged utilities to build a new generation of nuclear power stations, but stressed that it would be for the energy companies to fund, develop and build the new plants, including meeting the full costs of decommissioning.
Hutton said, “Set against the challenges of climate change and security of supply, the evidence in support of building new nuclear power stations is compelling, and we should positively embrace the opportunity of delivering this important part of our energy policy.
“I am therefore inviting energy companies to bring forward plans to build and operate new nuclear power stations.”
In order to facilitate new build, London is introducing a White Paper, or bill, which will speed up the planning process for nuclear power stations.
On the important question of waste, Hutton said that firms would be expected to meet the full cost of the management and storage of waste. But he said existing “interim” storage facilities were adequate until a permanent solution for the disposal of new and existing nuclear waste could be found.
Hutton said, “Geological disposal is technically possible and the best way to store existing waste and that from any new power stations.
“To give encouragement to the public and the industry, we will establish a new independent body to advise on the financial arrangements to cover operators’ waste and decommissioning costs, of which will be made public.”
French utility EDF has said repeatedly that it hopes to build the UK’s first new nuclear build for two decades by 2017. Last November, British Energy announced plans for four new sites, situated adjacent to four of its existing fleet of aging advanced gas cooled reactor plants.
Mr Hutton added that he hoped the UK’s partners in the European Union (EU) would seek to strengthen the price of carbon in subsequent phases of the EU Emissions Trading Scheme, which would give further encouragement to the nuclear industry.