Government approve nuclear plant sites

A new generation of nuclear power stations is a step closer after the Government unveiled eight potential sites for plants around the country.

Chris Huhne, Liberal Democrat Energy Secretary, who previously opposed new nuclear plants and accused the industry of "extracting lashings of taxpayers' money", said there would be no public subsidies for the power source.

The Department of Energy and Climate Change paved the way for new power plants at eight existing nuclear sites - Hartlepool - as well as Bradwell, Essex; Sizewell, Suffolk; Heysham, Lancashire; Hinkley Point, Somerset; Oldbury, South Gloucestershire; Sellafield, Cumbria; and Wylfa, Anglesey, and turned down another three.

Claiming he was "fed up" with the stand-off between supporters of nuclear power and renewables, Mr Huhne said both the energy sources were needed to power the UK.

He said the Government did not want to "play God" with the energy sector and wanted to leave it as much as possible to the market to decide which low-carbon technologies were developed.

But environmental organisations criticised the announcements designed to give companies more certainty over the future possibilities of nuclear plants and enable a new generation of power stations to be built.

Greenpeace said the economics of nuclear power did not add up and urged the Lib Dems to back renewables instead. And Friends of the Earth warned that not ruling out a cap on the level of liability costs for companies in the case of a nuclear accident was a subsidy by another name.

The announcements on nuclear were welcomed by business and unions. The Nuclear Industry Association said the Government statement added clarity to the future of new nuclear build, which would be one of the biggest programmes of private infrastructure investment the UK had ever seen.

And the GMB union said nuclear power stations and fossil fuel power plants installed with technology to capture and permanently store carbon emissions were "the only real shows in town" for the UK's energy supply.

Gary Smith, national officer of the GMB, said: "New nuclear power stations are absolutely essential and we need to get on and build them without further delay."

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