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New nuclear sites get approval

Energy secretary Chris Huhne this week dropped his objections to nuclear power and this week confirmed eight sites for development by 2025.

The previous government identified 11 sites and Huhne has dropped three.

The announcement was made in tandem with the publication of the government’s revised Nuclear National Policy Statement.

This identified the following sites for possible deployment for new nuclear by 2025: Bradwell, Essex; Hartlepool, Borough of Hartlepool; Heysham, Lancashire; Hinkley Point, Somerset; Oldbury, South Glos.; Sellafield, Cumbria; Sizewell, Suffolk; and Wylfa, Isle of Anglesey.

Dungeness in Kent has been ruled out due to concerns over the impact on an important habitat site and the possible impact of rising sea levels.Braystones and Kirkstanton in Cumbria have been ruled out because of concern about its impact on the Lake District.

“New nuclear is part of the mix and it’s a clear coalition agreement. I’ve made a deal as part of the coalition government but it is without public subsidy,” said Huhne.

“New nuclear is part of the mix and it’s a clear coalition agreement. I’ve made a deal as part of the coalition government but it is without public subsidy”

Chris Huhne

Before the election, Liberal Democrat Huhne had said he was “against the building of additional nuclear capacity, because the risks and hence costs of the technology are too high”.

He had also said that since nuclear accidents such as Chernobyl, no nuclear plant had yet been built anywhere in the world “without lashings of government subsidy” to underwrite the decommissioning costs or the problem of waste storage.

Engineers welcomed this week’s announcement.

“Nuclear energy is going to be a vital part of the UK’s future energy mix if we want to ensure we have a reliable, low carbon energy supply in years to come,” said ICE director general Tom Foulkes.

“Despite massive upfront costs, if government can provide industry with clarity and confidence in the policy and regulatory environment that surrounds the new build programme, the private sector will be encouraged to drive these new plants forward.”

Huhne also took steps to approve Westinghouse’s AP1000 reactor design and Areva’s EPR reactor design. He issued a Regulatory Justification for both, an action required under European legislation that confirms that the public health risks of radiation from the reactors are outweighed by economic and social benefits.

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