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We still need nuclear, Cameron

David Cameron has said lessons should be learned in the UK following explosions at a Japanese nuclear plant but insisted atomic power was necessary for Britain’s energy needs.

Workers battling to prevent meltdown at the Fukushima plant - damaged in Friday’s 9.0-magnitude earthquake and tsunami - have been forced to suspend operations after high radiation levels were recorded.

The Prime Minister told MPs there were “big differences” between reactors in the UK and Japan but a safety review had been ordered to ensure lessons were learned.

Mr Cameron also said the Government was doing all it could to ensure a British search and rescue team was able to get access to the hardest-hit coastal region, after it was turned back for not having the correct documentation.

At Commons question time, Tory Damian Collins (Folkestone and Hythe) asked: “Would you agree with me that nuclear power stations in the UK, like Dungeness in my constituency, have an excellent safety record and that new nuclear power will be an important part of our energy needs in the future?”

Mr Cameron replied: “I do think that nuclear power should be part of the mix in the future as it is part of the mix right now.

“Obviously I’m sure that everyone watching the dreadful events in Japan will want to make sure that we learn any lessons.

“Of course there are big differences - we don’t have those reactor designs in the UK nor do we plan them, and also we’re not in a similarly seismically important area.

“But nevertheless I’m sure there will be lessons to learn and that’s why the Climate Change and Energy Secretary (Chris Huhne) has asked the head of nuclear inspections and safety (Dr Mike Weightman) to learn the lessons and make sure we do that in our country.”

European energy ministers have agreed at an emergency meeting in Brussels that all 143 nuclear plants in the EU would undergo voluntary “stress tests” to assess the risk from natural disasters.

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