The new build programme could be worth up to £40bn

MPs this week approved planning guidelines for new energy projects including nuclear power stations.

The House of Commons voted to approve national policy statements for fossil fuel, renewable energy, gas supply, electricity networks and nuclear power generation infrastructure.

The nuclear policy statement confirmed sites at Bradwell, Hartlepool, Heysham, Hinkley Point, Oldbury, Sizewell, Sellafield and Wylfa were suitable for nuclear power plants, opening
the way for a new build programme worth up to £40bn.

The statements set out the policy that must be considered by the Infrastrucure Planning Commission and its successor before giving consent for new energy schemes.

Energy minister Charles Hendry, said: “The policy statements are critical to the new fast-track planning system that will encourage developers to embark on energy projects without facing unnecessary hold-ups.”

During a debate about the statements, Hendry said the first carbon capture and storage plant, to store carbon dioxide emitted by fossil fuel power plants, should be operational by 2015.
The government wants to open a nuclear waste disposal facility by 2029, he added.

He acknowledged that the UK would be in competition with China for skilled workers to build nuclear power stations and to export energy technology, but he said he was “very encouraged” by the investment going into nuclear skills in some  parts of the country.