Energy minister Charles Hendry will today set out the government’s support for new nuclear power, in the face of opposition from the Conservatives’ coalition partners the Liberal Democrats.
Hendry will tell the Nuclear Industry Forum that there is a role for new nuclear plants, provided they do not require public subsidies.
In one of the key differences between the two coalition parties, the Conservatives back a new generation of private sector-funded nuclear power stations while the Liberal Democrats have long opposed new nuclear build.
The Conservative junior minister, who works under Lib Dem Energy Secretary Chris Huhne, said conversations he has had with companies suggest they are willing to invest without being subsidised from the public purse.
But the government will have a role in taking steps to remove unnecessary barriers to building new nuclear power stations.
Government support is likely to include a strong floor price for carbon, which could be introduced in next week’s emergency Budget, pushing up the price of allowances for polluting and incentivising investment in low-carbon power such as nuclear.
Hendry is expected to tell the forum: “The coalition agreement clearly sees a role for new nuclear, provided that there is no public subsidy.
“We are clear. It is for private sector energy companies to construct, operate and decommission new nuclear plants.
“It will be for us to ensure the appropriate levels of safety, security and environmental regulation.”