The report, while demanding the government plans for how to deal with waste generated by future reactors, says the industry could be worth £10bn and would boost the economy of areas like West Cumbria – the home of Sellafield.

In the report Sir David calls for more reprocessing of nuclear waste to boost the economy of areas surrounding current and new nuclear power stations.

Sir David, who was backed by the CBI at the launch, unveiled the findings of his new report by the Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment this morning (March 29).

Sir David, who put back the launch of the report following events in Japan, said: “Despite the terrible events in Japan, the economic, safety and carbon case for a new nuclear build programme in the UK has never been stronger.

“Currently the UK has a window of opportunity to deal with its nuclear material and spent fuel management and to maximise the value of its existing assets.

“The renaissance in new nuclear build creates an advantageous way of using these legacy materials as fuel for new nuclear power plants.”

Backing the report CBI deputy director-general, Dr Neil Bentley, said: “The terrible events in Japan are a horrific reminder of why safety has to be the number one concern when it comes to nuclear energy.

“At the same time, nuclear has to remain a solution to fulfilling our objectives to secure a future low carbon, affordable energy mix for the UK.”

However, Greenpeace’s chief scientist, Dr Doug Parr, dismissed the report and called for more renewables backing.

He said: “By reprocessing nuclear waste and turning it into fuel, you create even more nuclear waste than you would otherwise have to deal with anyway.

“Reprocessing would also lead to increased multi-billion pound taxpayer handouts to the nuclear industry, and that’s before you consider what it would mean for our ability to constrain nuclear weapons proliferation around the world.”

Luke Walsh

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