Protest as nuclear waste costs decision 'snuck out'
The Government has been accused of releasing crucial information around the nuclear power industry and its waste in an 'underhand' way.
The announcement was made, with the formerly anti-nuclear energy secretary Chris Huhne out of the country at COP17 in South Africa, by Charles Hendry.
Mr Hendry said he wanted to 'protect the taxpayer and provide investor certainty' as he set out statutory guidance for new nuclear operators to produce plans for funding the decommissioning of their power stations and managing their radioactive waste.
However, campaigners said the consultations on an updated waste transfer policy and revised funding for decommissioning will cost the public a 'fortune'.
Environmental group Greenpeace also claimed the Government tried to 'bury' the news on a busy news day with the water white paper, COP17 talks and European Union funding talks all hitting the headlines.
Mr Hendry said: "We are determined to encourage investment in new nuclear in the UK, and have taken a number of steps to do this.
"Publishing this guidance today takes us another step closer to enabling that investment to come to fruition.
"Nuclear operators will have to prove they have a credible, plan for funding the decommissioning and safe management of their radioactive waste. This is the best way to protect taxpayers from having to pick up the bill."
Greenpeace spokeswoman, Louise Hutchins, said: "The government has singularly failed to manage the 'Big Six' energy companies from exploiting consumers, failed to manage the lack of investment in cleaner and cheaper forms of domestic fuel, yet the one area of management they excel in is news management.
"They have snuck this critical statement out in a written answer so that there can be no parliamentary scrutiny of the decision to burden generations to come with the cost of cleaning up dangerous nuclear waste whilst the secretary of state, the person really responsible, is 5,000 miles away in South Africa.
"Ministers promised a new way of doing politics when they came into office - many of us had hopes that they would deliver on that promise, instead they seem to be trying to cynically prevent open debate.
"But even this blatant attempt from the play book of dark arts can't conceal the unpalatable facts about the burden on taxpayers of cleaning up nuclear waste.
"It is going to cost a fortune and UK tax payers will have to foot the bill - so no wonder they tried to bury it on a busy news day."