Industry secretary launches final consultation period for fresh generation of power stations

A decision on a second generation of nuclear power stations must be made by the end of the year Alistair Darling, the industry secretary, said this week.

Launching the energy white paper on Wednesday, Darling (pictured) said the government was committed to increasing renewable energy, but that this alone would not be enough to meet the country’s future needs.

Darling confirmed that the private sector ought to be responsible for financing the construction and operation of the nuclear power plants.

But he again stopped short of revealing a schedule for them, or saying how many were planned.

The government has launched a final consultation on nuclear, which will run until October. Darling said this needed to be completed before a final decision was taken, although a judgment had to be reached by the end of the year to allow adequate time for construction.

The government is to start preparing the ground for the plants before that stage. It will establish the most suitable and safe designs for the stations, and make arrangements for funding their decommissioning and the treatment of waste.

Darling said: “Nuclear power is an important part of electricity generation. It is regular and steady, whereas most renewables are intermittent.”

Simon Harrison, energy director at Mott MacDonald, said: “At the moment there is too much uncertainty but I think we will see companies creating options so they have the choice to invest later.”

The white paper also included legislation to make tidal and wind technologies cheaper to develop.