Hutton pledges support for new nuclear

Energy from new nuclear generators is "indispensible" for keeping the UK's lights on, reducing dependency on foreign oil and gas, and cutting carbon emissions, according to a senior Government figure.

Business Secretary John Hutton pledged his support for a new generation of nuclear power stations as Government’s new Nuclear Development Forum met for the first time on Thursday.

He added that British manufacturers should position themselves to take advantage of an expected £20bn private sector investment in new nuclear and the creation of 100,000 new jobs.

However, they will face stiff competition for this investment from countries such as China, he warned.

“I’m determined to press all the buttons to get nuclear built in this country at the earliest opportunity – not only because it’s a no-brainer for our energy security, but also because it’s good for jobs and our economy,” he said.

He added: “I know many manufacturers across the country already have the skills and expertise needed to build power stations – but more needs to be done to create and support a globally competitive UK supply chain, focusing on high-value added activities to take advantage of the UK and global nuclear renaissance.”

He said the newly-created Office for Nuclear Development will support the growth of such a supply chain.

But his words have created controversy among environmental campaigners, who urged Government to focus on renewables and energy efficiency.

Greenpeace senior nuclear campaigner Nathan Argent said: “John Hutton is massively overstating the role that nuclear can play in securing our energy supplies, because the bulk of our energy is used for fuelling our vehicles and heating our homes, where nuclear can’t play a role.”

Government has also published its response to a consultation on the Funded Decommissioning Programme guidance, which reiterates that nuclear operators – not taxpayers – will have to meet the full cost of decommissioning and their share of waste management and disposal costs.

The response can be found here.

Kate Martin

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie