Huhne: New nuclear a possibility

New nukes?  Power stations could be built to replace Calder Hall and other nuclear generators
New nukes? Power stations could be built to replace Calder Hall and other nuclear generators

By staff

Energy secretary Chris Huhne has said new nuclear power stations could be built under the coalition government.

The Liberal Democrats, Mr Huhne's party, went into the election promising not to build new nuclear power stations, whereas the Conservatives favoured replacing ageing stations.

Speaking on the Today programme, Mr Huhne said the coalition government had agreed to make no public subsidy available to build new nuclear power stations.

But, he added: "It's entirely up to the nuclear industry. If they come up with plans with genuinely no public subsidy. we will not vote against that.

"If there's a majority in parliament in favour of a particular proposal - and there are an awful lot of ifs here - then new nuclear will go ahead."

This is one of the major policy disagreements between the Conservative and Lib Dems. The terms of their coalition agreement state clearly that Lib Dem MPs will be allowed to abstain on the issue when it comes to a vote in parliament.

Yesterday's document stated: "We have agreed a process that will allow Liberal Democrats to maintain their opposition to nuclear power while permitting the government to bring forward the national planning statement for ratification by parliament so that new nuclear construction is possible."

This will involve the government completing the drafting of a national planning statement, agreement that a Lib Dem will speak against the government on the planning statement and clarity that "this will not be regarded as an issue of confidence".

Mr Huhne said the business of compromising on such issues was "obviously unpleasant for each of the parties".


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