UK government names 10 potential sites for future nuclear power stations
The UK government today paved the way for a huge expansion of nuclear power by naming 10 potential sites for new power stations.
Consultation on the 10 selected sites would begin nationally. Three other potential candidates - Kingsnorth, Druridge Bay and Owston Ferry - had been excluded due to "serious impediments".
Mr Miliband said: "New nuclear is right for energy security and climate change - and will be good for jobs too, creating up to 9,000 jobs to build and operate power stations ..."
Energy Secretary Ed Miliband said that despite increases in renewable energy a boost to nuclear power would be needed to meet the nation's energy needs.
The 10 sites identified for possible new power stations by 2025 are Bradwell, Braystones, Hartlepool, Heysham, Hinkley Point, Kirksanton, Oldbury, Sellafield, Sizewell and Wylfa. Dungeness (Dungeness B is pictured here) was not included on the list due to concern about the possible environmental impact.
Mr Miliband confirmed that the planning process would be streamlined to prevent applications being unnecessarily held up, offering a clear timetable of one year from the acceptance of an application to a decision.
He also announced there would be no new coal-fired power stations unless they were fitted with carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology. He said the aim was for CCS to be ready to be deployed "100% on all new coal fired power stations by 2020". If by 2018, ministers concluded the technology will "not be proven," further regulatory measures to restrict emissions would be required. To make CCS financial viable, the proposed Energy Bill will have powers to introduce a levy to support its introduction. "Taken together, these policies are the most environmentally ambitious set of coal conditions of any country in the world," said Miliband. "And they provide the opportunity for Britain to create thousands of jobs in CCS throughout our country."
Unveiling six draft national policy statements on energy, Mr Miliband said "significantly more generating capacity" was needed in the longer term. He said even on the Government's "ambitious targets" for renewable energy, there would be a need for new non-renewable power as well. Nuclear power was a "proven, reliable source of low carbon energy".
The current planning system was characterised by "duplication ... over-lapping responsibilities ... and delay". The new Infrastructuree Planning Commission will, in future, make its decisions "on the basis of a clear timetable of a year from the acceptance of an application to a decision".
Mr Miliband said the statements would set the country "on course for the long-term goal of near-zero carbon emissions from power".
For the Conservative Party opposition, Greg Clark said Mr Miliband's statement was a "declaration of a national emergency for our energy security". He asked: "Why did they leave it so late to act?" He said that the cause for this emergency was the relay of 15 successive energy ministers over 12 years who had "behaved like the ostrich and stuck their head in their sand".
Mr Clark asked whether the Government knew that most nuclear power stations would reach the end of their planned life by 2017. "Every one of the measures contained in the statement should have been brought forward 10 years ago, when you had the chance to secure the investments that are so desperately needed to keep the lights on, to keep prices down and to cut carbon emissions."
The Conservatives supported the planning statements themselves but said they should be endorsed with a Commons vote. It was "absolutely right" to create a fast-track planning process for large infrastructure projects.
"But do you agree that the final decision should be taken not by an unelected, unaccountable official but by a Secretary of State responsible to this House." It was "now too late" for nuclear to be introduced fast enough to replace Britain's current capacity before it is shut down - and this would increase the UK's dependence on gas imports before 2020, Mr Clark warned.
Mr Miliband said Mr Clark had demonstrated a "unique combination of alarmism and complacency". He told MPs: "Alarmism because if you had listened to my statement, you would have heard me say that if you look to 2018, we're replacing the 18 gigawatts that's closing with 20 gigawatts."