At least eight new power stations will definitely be built over the next 15 years and more if the market requires

Gordon Brown wants at least eight new nuclear power stations to be built over the next 15 years but says the market should determine the final total, according to reports.

At a summit of the EU and Mediterranean states in Paris yesterday, the prime minister called for a “renaissance of nuclear power” and said Britain was “moving quickly to replace its ageing fleet”.

Brown did not explicitly set a number, but aides have said he wants a minimum of eight power stations, with the market free to build more if desired. It is the first time the government has put a figure on its nuclear new-build plans.

Most of the new plants are expected to be built alongside existing facilities, where local communities are readier to accept nuclear power. New UK planning laws will almost certainly be used to fast-track approval.

Britain has 10 nuclear power stations in use, generating 10GW of electricity, but just one of these will still be operating by 2023.

The government has promised to consult on its proposals for nuclear new-build. It is expected to start inviting site nominations at the end of the year.