Energy industry keen on nuclear stations says Government

Interest in building new nuclear power stations in the UK is "strong", the Government has said amid signs of moves to speed up a timetable for replacing current sites.

Business Secretary John Hutton said there has been "considerable interest" from the energy industry since he invited firms in January to come forward with proposals for new stations.

"Planning applications for new plants are likely to focus on areas in the vicinity of existing sites and so it's welcome that the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority is making its significant land and other assets available to the market," said Hutton.

The authority today asked interested parties to state over the next four weeks which assets they are interested in before the competition process is determined.

Hutton said in a newspaper interview that the UK's reliance on nuclear power will increase "significantly" over the next 20 years so that source will supply more than the current 19 per cent of electricity.

The first new nuclear power station could be operational by 2017, a year ahead of the target set in a white paper earlier this year, Mr Hutton told the Financial Times.

"If we can accelerate the timescale, we should. We've got to be completely serious about this ... We should keep our foot down on the pedal."

Regeneration organisations in Cumbria urged utility firms to "grasp the opportunity" for building new nuclear power stations in West Cumbria.

Rosie Mathisen, of West Lakes Renaissance, said: "West Cumbria's nuclear sites have massive potential for a new nuclear power station.

"The private sector is well aware of West Cumbria's status as a world leader in the nuclear industry. This early marketing of the sites will get across the message that there are many good reasons for new build here.

"Firstly, there is ample space for a new power station and to accommodate future expansion. There is also enough reprocessed waste at Sellafield to fuel two new reactors for 60 years at a relatively low cost."

Image: Business Secretary John Hutton senses a swell of support from the energy industry for new nuclear power stations

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