The UK is pushing ahead with its nuclear expansion policy despite public opposition in the wake of the ongoing Japanese nuclear crisis at Fukushima.
The Government published its finalised Energy National Policy Statements (NPSs) yesterday, confirming eight possible sites for new nuclear power stations by 2025 as part of its nuclear strategy.
The shortlisted sits are Bradwell in Essex, Hartlepool, Heysham in Lancashire, Hinkley Point in Somerset, Oldbury in Gloucestershire, Sellafield in Cumbria, Sizewell in Suffolk and Wylfa on the Isle of Anglesey in Wales.
The NPSs, which also cover fossil fuels, oil and gas, electricity networks and the need for 33 GW of new renewable capacity, provide a framework for decisions on major infrastructure projects.
“These plans set out our energy need to help guide the planning process, so that if acceptable proposals come forward in appropriate places, they will not face unnecessary hold-ups,” said Charles Hendry, Minister of State for Energy.
He went on that the country will need to replace around a quarter of its generating capacity by the end of the decade and will need more than £100 billion in investment in electricity generation alone.
“The Coalition Government is determined to make the UK a truly attractive market for investors, to give us secure, affordable, low-carbon energy. These National Policy Statements are an important milestone,” Prisk concluded.
The NPSs, which will now go before Parliament for discussion, have been welcomed by business lobby group the CBI and the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE).
“It is good news that the Government has heeded our calls to publish the NPSs on energy,” says Rhian Kelly of the CBI. “What we now need is Parliament’s approval before the summer recess so the energy sector can get on with what needs doing.”
But environmental group Friends of the Earth called the nuclear expansion plan an “expensive gamble”.
“We can meet our energy needs by investing in energy efficiency and developing the UK’s vast potential for clean renewable power,” says campaigner Simon Bullock.
He adds that while the nuclear power industry still requires government subsidies – although the Coalition has insisted that it will not provide them – solar power could be cost-competitive within the decade, according to a recent report.
“If the Government gave the same enthusiastic backing to green energy as it gives to nuclear we’d be well on the road to a cleaner, safer future,” says Bullock.
For further information:
UK government promises to meet nuclear safety recommendations (22-Jun)
Solar power in the UK could be cost competitive within decade (21-Jun)
UK’s interim report on nuclear safety raises no concerns (19-May)
Public opposition to nuclear power grows in UK (24-Mar)
24 June 2011