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Blair says new nuclear power stations are inevitable

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PRIME MINISTER Tony Blair this week promised a radical overhaul of energy policy and dropped clear hints about a future nuclear power construction programme.

He warned the Labour Party conference in Manchester that Britain faced economic crisis if it failed to retain its energy self suffi ciency.

In his keynote address he said Britain could ill-afford to become a net importer of energy even though current trends suggest that the UK will be importing 80% of its energy within 10 years.

Referring to the impending Energy White Paper, Blair said: 'This is the most radical overhaul of energy policy since the Second World War.' Blair said building new nuclear power stations was inevitable.

'I believe that without it [nuclear] we will face an energy crisis and we can't let that happen.' He added that renewable energy and clean coal would also play an important role.

'We will have to have a five fold increase in renewables and are trebling investment in clean technologies, including clean coal, ' he told delegates in his last conference speech as prime minister.

Blair's comments reinforced those of energy minister Malcolm Wicks.

He said that the UK should lead the world in pioneering clean coal technology.

'We are investing in research and technology but what we really need is a major demonstration project.

This would drive markets and job opportunities around the world, ' he told a Labour fringe meeting organised by EDF Energy.

He said that the government had recently increased investment in research.

There will be a statement on the use of clean coal in chancellor Gordon Brown's prebudget report this autumn.

'We have got to be looking at the future of coal, tacking on clean coal technology and increasing the use of renewables to 20% by 2020, ' said Wicks.

'In terms of nuclear power it is about replacement. We are looking at replacing our current civil nuclear plants with a new generation of nuclear capacity being built on existing nuclear sites, ' he said.

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