Energy and climate change secretary, Ed Miliband, has also given more details of his plans for ‘clean’ coal generation.

Ten of the eleven sites nominated by the industry in March have been assessed as potentially suitable for new nuclear deployment by the end of 2025: Bradwell, Braystones, Hartlepool, Heysham, Hinkley Point, Kirksanton, Oldbury, Sellafield, Sizewell and Wylfa.

Dungeness was nominated but has not been listed as the Government felt ‘potential environmental impacts’ would be a problem.

Decisions on proposals bigger than 50 megawatts, or 100 megawatts for offshore wind, will be reduced from two years, sometimes much more, to one year.

However, a protester wanting to challenge a potential development appears to be left with only the option of a taking legal action once it’s officially given the green light.

Mr Miliband said: “The current planning system is a barrier, it serves neither the interests of energy security, the interests of the low carbon transition, nor the interests of people living in areas where infrastructure may be built, for the planning process to take years to come to a decision.

“That is why we are undertaking fundamental reform of the planning system which will result in a more efficient, transparent and accessible process.

“And our new policy framework for clean coal will drive the development of Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) which will be essential for reducing the impact of coal-fired power stations on the environment.”

Head of Greenpeace’s nuclear campaign, Ben Ayliffe, said: “He can name as many sites as he likes for new nuclear power stations, but the fact remains the figures simply don’t add up.

“Even the Thatcher government realised this. It was exactly 20 years ago to the day that they pulled nuclear plants from the energy privatisation scheme when they realised that nuclear power was not an attractive investment for private companies. And it still isn’t.

“Our lawyers will be examining this announcement very closely. You can’t justify building more nuclear power stations when there is no solution to radioactive waste and when international regulators are saying there are huge uncertainties surrounding the basic safety of new reactor designs.”

However, the GMB union backed the announcement with national secretary for the energy sector, Gary Smith, said “This is an important announcement and it is welcome.

“However, we need to face up to the fact that we are foot-dragging in terms of getting on with building these nuclear power stations.

“It is a fact that the economic framework to enable these power stations to be built is not yet in place.

“Any economic framework will require guaranteed pricing which will need either consumers to pay higher prices or the taxpayers to subsidise the returns to the operators.

Luke Walsh

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