Improve safety guarantees, nuclear industry told

The nuclear industry must give better safety guarantees and improve on transparency if it wants to build new power stations, the Government has said.

As the energy review that is to decide the future of nuclear power in the UK continues, energy minister Malcolm Wicks told the nuclear industry that it must back up its demands for quicker and easier planning procedures for power stations with proof that it can make them safe.

Speaking at the British Nuclear Society and European Nuclear Society conference in London on Tuesday, he said:

“Today I issue a challenge to the nuclear industry. You are calling for greater certainty over licensing. You are calling for shorter planning processes. You are calling for the scope of planning inquiries to be restricted.”

“But my challenge to you then is to show me how this might work in practice. How might you achieve these things while still maintaining the same high levels of scrutiny and safeguards we have now?”

“There is another question that needs to be addressed. Given public concerns and suspicions, and at times distrust of past secrecy, how can we promote open debate about nuclear.”

Over the course of the six-month energy review, the Government has been criticised for pushing the nuclear option as an answer to energy security and climate change despite concerns over radioactive waste and terrorist attacks. The public consultation phase of the review will close in three weeks time.

Britain’s twelve existing power stations currently supply a fifth of the country’s energy. Eleven of them will close by 2020, presenting the Government with an additional energy security challenge on top of gas and oil supply uncertainties.

Meanwhile, the Nuclear Industry Association published a report on Wednesday claiming British nuclear companies could provide for 80% of new nuclear power station projects if the energy review gives them the go-ahead later this year.

By Goska Romanowicz

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