November 9, 2009

Britain To Accelerate Plans For New Nuclear Plants

Britain will face a serious energy crisis unless plans to build new nuclear power plants are speeded through without having obstacles placed in their way, the Government will warn next week.

Published: 9:30AM GMT 07 Nov 2009

Ed Miliband, the Energy and Climate Change Secretary, will give the go-ahead for a new generation of power stations and explain how new planning guidelines will speed up the time it takes for them to come into operation.

In a major series of policy statements on Monday Mr Miliband will say that “saying no” to nuclear is no longer an option.

The move is certain to arouse opposition in Labour ranks, sweeping away many of the concerns on the traditional left. But Mr Miliband said that business backs his plans and companies need to have confidence that they will not be thwarted if they invest in Britain’s new energy order.

Last night he told The Daily Telegraph: “Saying no is not a good energy policy. In fact we’ve got to say yes to all of the key technologies, nuclear, renewable, clean coal. It isn’t just about the green thing it’s about doing the right thing by way of energy security.

“We are going to have to see significant infrastructure built in the coming years. We have to understand people's concerns and where they’re coming from but to say no to all of these things isn’t an option because it will be bad for Britain in terms of our security of supply and it’s bad in terms of low carbon as well.”

He added: “We can’t have endless delay. I don’t think that’s good for people themselves whether they’re for or against. It’s not good for business and it’s not good for Britain as a whole.

“So it’s an important, significant moment because it’s saying we’re pressing ahead with these plans and it’s the right thing to do for Britain and people need to get behind them.”

The list of sites will include many that have previously had nuclear reactors. They include two in Sellafield, Wylfa in North Wales and Dungeness in Kent.

It is understood that after a six month consultation period the sites are considered the best because of the existing infrastructure and a local community that is not resistant to the prospect of a new installation.

The new planning rules are designed to stop nuclear plans being bogged down in legal wrangles for years. Instead, Mr Miliband said that he wants to new power stations in place by 2017-18.

He said: “The truth is that we need to reform the planning system because the current system involves duplication, it involves delay and it won’t get the infrastructure built in time. So that’s why I think it’s right to do the reforms.

“We’re putting in place a planning system that actually enjoys the support of business, the support of investors and I think its time that they recognised that and supported it.”

Ministers were angered when the Conservatives used government figures to claim Britain risked being plunged into an era of 1970s-style blackouts because of poor energy planning

While maintaining that blackouts will not happen, Mr Miliband makes it clear that Britain cannot afford delay if it is to avoid having to import energy in the coming years.

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