An aerial view shows Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, pictured before the March 2011 earthquake

UK Government rejected Japan-style nuclear reactor

The UK turned down the same type of nuclear reactor that engineers are struggling to bring under control in Japan.

Huhne also admitted it was “physically possible” to rely entirely on renewable energy and carbon capture storage but the costs would be “very substantial”.

Despite feverish efforts to get the Fukushima plant's cooling system working, the boiling water reactors are still leaking radiation following the earthquake of March 11.

Huhne was questioned in the Commons about the safety of existing British plants and Government's plans for nuclear energy.

He has already asked chief nuclear inspector Dr Mike Weightman to review the safety of nuclear energy in the UK following the disaster but told MPs he did not “anticipate that will lead to enormous changes”.

Huhne said the Government had been offered the same type of nuclear reactor but had refused to take them. The coalition's strategy was to have “diverse supplies” of energy and “not to put all its eggs in one basket”.

The fallout in Japan was being taken “extremely seriously” and “safety was absolutely paramount”, he said.

“There are very substantial differences between our situation and the situation in Japan. We actually refused to authorise the reactor type that was used in Japan, the boiling water reactor, when it was proposed to the UK,” Huhne said.

Shadow energy secretary Meg Hillier said Huhne needed to be clear whether he was backing the expansion of nuclear energy in the UK as investors needed to know the Government's position.

Huhne replied: “Frankly, I don't think investors are under any illusions about what the position is.

“I was at the Nuclear Development Forum and I said very clearly that we would continue with the plans as set out in the coalition agreement, that we envisage a role for new nuclear, that we want to see new nuclear come on.

“But we have to have an emphasis on safety. That's why we commissioned the report from Dr Mike Weightman. I don't anticipate that is going to lead to enormous changes but we have to wait and see the result of it, based on the facts.”

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