Liberal Democrat energy secretary Chris Huhne has said new nuclear power would go ahead as part of the UK’s low-carbon energy mix - despite his party’s opposition to the technology.
Laying out plans for low-carbon growth, including clean power generation and energy efficiency, Huhne said the coalition government’s agreement was clear that new nuclear “can and will go ahead” as long as there was no public subsidy for the sector.
Under the agreement, the Lib Dems can speak out against nuclear - which they oppose - but will abstain on a vote on the National Policy Statement which would pave the way for new nuclear power stations.
He told the Economist UK Energy Summit that alongside investment in energy - which will need to reach £200bn over the coming decade - a new drive was needed to boost energy efficiency, which he described as the “Cinderella of the energy ball”.
In a speech to the conference, he set out proposals for the government’s “green deal” which he said could see up to 14M homes benefit from insulation that would save them money on their bills.
Huhne told delegates that currently, UK households “may as well be burning £50 notes outside our front doors” because of the amount of energy wasted.
The government is planning a “radical overhaul of our existing homes to save energy, carbon and costs” through its Green Deal scheme in which energy companies and high street stores would pay upfront for work to insulate homes and improve energy efficiency.