Plans to fast-track nuclear plants to be unveiled

Author: By Craig Woodhouse, Press Association

Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Miliband will announce a series of
national policy statements which will include a list of sites deemed
suitable for new nuclear developments.

Under changes to the planning laws, the Infrastructure Planning Commission
(IPC) will be able to speed through the proposals for new schemes if it
decides they fit in with the policy statements.

That would contrast with examples such as the six-year struggle to steer the
Sizewell B power station through the planning process, and is likely to
encourage foreign firms such as E.ON, RWE npower and EDF to produce a new
fleet of UK power stations that could be up and running by 2017.

Alongside nuclear power, the Government will issue draft policy statements
setting out the national need for new energy infrastructure including
renewables, fossil fuels, gas and infrastructure, as well as an overarching
energy statement.

Green groups expressed dismay at the prospect of new nuclear power and warned
the Government could be open to legal challenge if the statements do not
properly consider climate change.

They have also raised concerns that people will not be able to influence
decisions on major projects because schemes covered by the statements will
not be subject to public inquiry.

But the Government insists firms will have to work closely with local regions
and show they have consulted widely in order to gain approval.

The statements are expected to cite the finite nature of fossil fuels and the
pressing demands of climate change while making the case for nuclear power
stations.

Mr Miliband will also set out the financial and regulatory framework for
driving forward clean coal “carbon capture and storage” technology, but
Greenpeace said neither should be part of Britain’s future energy mix.

Robin Oakley, head of the group’s climate and energy campaign, said: “Nuclear
is a dangerous and expensive irrelevance to tackling climate change and
providing real energy security.

“We don’t need coal or nuclear, because proven green technologies such as wind
and combined heat and power stations can secure Britain’s energy needs,
create green jobs and slash our emissions.”

Friends of the Earth executive director Andy Atkins said the battle against
climate change should be at the “core” of all Government decisions in order
to meet commitments on reducing emissions.

And he added: “Building new nuclear reactors is not the answer to the
challenges of climate change and energy security.

“Nuclear power leaves a deadly legacy of radioactive waste that remains highly
dangerous for tens of thousands of years and costs tens of billions of
pounds to manage.

“And building new plants would divert precious resources from developing safe
renewable power, while doing little to bring about the urgent emissions
reductions that are desperately needed within the next decade.”

Mr Miliband, who will unveil the draft national policy statements to the
Commons, said they were crucial for the shape of Britain’s future energy
supply.

“We know the low-carbon transition is a huge challenge,” he said.

“We now need to move on to getting the actions in place to make it happen.

“That is why the national policy statements and Infrastructure Planning
Commission are important, because the truth is that we are not going to be
able to deliver a 21st century energy system with a 20th century planning
system.”

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