Amec is seeking partners to help it bid for nuclear power stations after prime minister Tony Blair this week signalled his support for a new generation of them

Amec is talking to utility companies, reactor designers, banks and operators with which it could form a consortium to bid for the stations.

Terry Gilbert, business development director at Amec Nuclear, said the firm was in talks with a number of parties but would not firm up a consortium for up to two years.

However, it is thought that it would look to form alliances with a utility firm such as EDF or E.On, a nuclear designer such as General Electric, Areva-Framatome or ACL, a bank and an operator such as British Energy. Amec would act as programme manager.

Gilbert added that concrete could be poured on the first station in as little as five years from now, if the government accelerated the planning and regulatory system.

The big firms want the government's Nuclear Installations Inspectorate to work with regulatory bodies around the world to devise a fast-track system so consortiums can gain licences to use nuclear power station designs without passing through the usual regulatory hoops. Instead, the NII would vouch for the company's UK safety record.

Pre-empting his own energy review, Blair said at a CBI dinner on Tuesday that the first draft of the energy review that he had seen had "put the replacement of nuclear power stations back on the agenda with a vengeance".

Bill Bryce, chair of the new-build working party at the Nuclear Industry Association, welcomed Blair's speech.

He said: "The announcement is very encouraging. The energy review panel has had a month to look at the review and that's why Blair's come out as he has. He's taken it on board quite positively."