David King, the government's chief scientific adviser, has predicted that Britain could have new nuclear power stations by as early as 2012.

In an interview with Building, King outlined a vision for a future that relied heavily on nuclear power. The government's Energy Review comes out in July.

He said: "I think that if we were to go nuclear, we would have to go through a pre-licensing process, which would probably take a year and a half. Then you turn it over to the utilities for a decision. Let's suppose a utility makes a decision by July 2008. I think you would have nuclear up by 2012-14."

King predicted that nuclear power would make up 30% of the UK's maximum energy demand and renewables would make up 20%.

He said: "I think it's inevitable that we will see another generation of nuclear power stations around the world. Whether or not this country is part of that process depends on public accountability."

King predicted that the engineers needed to build them would come from South-east Asia, China, India, South Korea and France.

The rest of the UK's energy could be provided by cleaner versions of conventional coal and gas.