UK Ministers announce 8 new nuclear plants

Posted: June 23, 2011 in Environment, UK

Just three months after the Fukushima disaster in Japan ministers have announced plans for the next generation of UK nuclear plants. The government have confirmed a list of eight sites deemed suitable for new power stations by 2025, all of which are adjacent to existing nuclear sites.

The sites are: Bradwell, Essex; Hartlepool; Heysham, Lancashire; Hinkley Point, Somerset; Oldbury, Gloucestershire; Sellafield, Cumbria; Sizewell, Suffolk; and Wylfa, Anglesey.

The future of nuclear power as a source for countries around the world was called into question after the disaster which occurred in March when a Japanese earthquake and tsunami rocked the reactors at Fukushima, leaving radioactivity leaking from the plant.

These plans for new nuclear power plants are part of a series of national policy statements that will be debated and voted on in Parliament, but ministers are hopeful that, with a pro-nuclear majority in the Commons, they will win the argument. Nuclear power is one of the issues that divided Conservatives and Liberal Democrats when they entered Government together, with the coalition deal allowing a Lib Dem spokesman to speak out against any new nuclear plants, while Lib Dem MPs could abstain on the issue. However, Lib Dem Energy Secretary Chris Huhne has since given his backing to new reactors.

The new reactors are designed to maintain electricity supplies and cut greenhouse gas emissions. Energy Minister Charles Hendry said: “Around a quarter of the UK’s generating capacity is due to close by the end of this decade. We need to replace this with secure, low carbon, affordable energy.

Despite over £100bn worth of investment being needed in electricity generation alone Mr Hendry stressed that they would not be subsidised by the taxpayer, although MPs have warned that reform of the electricity market could favour nuclear power and amount to a hidden subsidy.

Fierce opposition will meet the proposals continuing from the already very active anti-nuclear movement whose current focus is Hinkley Point near Bridgewater in Somerset. The Stop New Nuclear group who plan a non-violent blockade of the the power station on October 3rd claim that nuclear power is not necessary, safe or sustainable.

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