Govt's nuclear programme will be a 'financial disaster'

The report says Britain should turn its back on nuclear power
The report says Britain should turn its back on nuclear power

The government's nuclear programme will be a financial disaster according to a new report published today.

It found UK taxpayers have lost £72 billion over the last 50 years to the country's failing nuclear industry.

The report into the nuclear energy industry, published by Friends of the Earth, pours scorn on government claims about the potential of nuclear energy.

It points to the government's own figures which show nuclear programmes accounting for only a seven per cent cut in gas imports and a four per cent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions.

The research could not come at a worse time for the government, with Gordon Brown staking his environmental credentials on an enlargement of Britain's nuclear programme in response to protests from road users about the unprecedented price of oil.

But Paul Brown, the reports author, said the government's track record on nuclear power was disastrous.

"Even after years of reporting this industry I was shocked when doing this research at the scale of the technical failures and financial disasters facing the current nuclear industry - the costs of which will all fall on the taxpayer," he said.

"Nuclear power has always been the most expensive way of producing electricity and has been given massive public subsidy.

"The government is trying to dupe the public into believing this won't happen next time, although all the evidence is to the contrary."

The reports found that any new generation of nuclear power stations would require extensive funding from the taxpayer and unlimited guarantees to underwrite the debts of the existing and future nuclear industry.

British Energy has already had all its debts and liabilities underwritten by the taxpayer, a commitment which dwarfs the risks involved in Northern Rock, the report warns.

The spotlight is also placed on the UK's existing nuclear complex in Sellafield where costs have reached £100 for every taxpayer a year.

Friends of the Earth nuclear campaigner, Neil Crumpton, said: "After 50 years of nuclear power the industry is in crisis, with the taxpayer picking up a clean-up bill that has already reached £72 billion.

"Rather than trying to breathe fresh life into this dangerous and expensive white elephant, the government should investing in far safer and cleaner solutions such as energy efficiency, clean renewable energy, combined heat and power, and potentially carbon capture and storage."

Green party principal speak Caroline Lucas said Gordon Brown was "guilty of the most staggering failure of political vision".


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