| A new generation of nuclear power
stations in the UK has been given the formal go-ahead by the government.
Business Secretary John Hutton told MPs nuclear
power would help secure the UK's future energy supplies and fight climate
He said nuclear was "tried and tested",
safe and "affordable" and was one of the cheapest options for the
UK to meet its carbon reduction targets
But critics say new reactors will be expensive,
dirty and dangerous.
Existing nuclear power stations produce about
20% of the UK's electricity.
Ministers say a decision is necessary now,
as many nuclear and coal-fired power stations are due to close within 20
The government's former chief scientific adviser,
Sir David King, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme:
"Nuclear is no longer expensive, given
the price of oil and gas...
Obviously [safety] is a question that has
to be dealt with very, very carefully."
He added that France had the "lowest carbon
footprint in Europe" because of its use of nuclear power.
But Green Party principle speaker Caroline
Lucas said: "What we are being offered by the government is far too
little too late, at far too high a price.
We should be putting energy efficiency
at the heart of our strategy."
The government's 2006 Energy Review said the
private sector should "initiate, fund, construct and operate new nuclear
It said ministers should help by "addressing
potential barriers", such as changing planning laws.
The government is also publishing an Energy
Bill designed to reduce carbon emissions and secure the UK's power supplies.
Mr Brown said on Wednesday that ministers
were also looking at how to use more renewable sources, such as wind and
In 2006, the then prime minister Tony Blair
said new nuclear stations should be built to reduce carbon emissions and
Britain's reliance on oil and gas imports.
But that decision was put on hold after a
High Court judged ruled the consultation part of the initial energy review
was "seriously flawed", following a challenge by Greenpeace.
A second consultation finished in October
but that has also been criticised. Greenpeace says its lawyers will be
examining the government's statement.
The campaign group claims research shows that
even 10 new reactors would cut the UK's carbon emissions by only about
4% some time after 2025.
Environmental campaigners are also concerned
that a concentration on nuclear power will deflect attention and funding
from development of renewable energy and "carbon capture" projects.
The Conservative Party backs nuclear power
but says it should go ahead without subsidy.
The Liberal Democrats reject its use because
of the risk of accidents and what they describe as "the long-term legacy
Party leader Nick Clegg said: "The government
must be honest about how much it will cost to build and run new nuclear
power stations and who is going to pick up the bill."
But Dougie Rooney of the Unite union, which
represents workers in the nuclear industry, called for "a bold vision
with clear deadlines to enable companies to plan for new nuclear reactors".
Although energy policy is not devolved, Scottish
ministers have control of the planning system and also have to give consent
under the Electricity Act to the construction of new power stations above
a certain size.
Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond has
said there is "no chance" of more nuclear power stations being built