Huhne promises new nuclear power stations in 8 years

Huhne: Questions over his belief in nuclear power
Huhne: Questions over his belief in nuclear power

By Ian Dunt

Chris Huhne has tried to put suspicions about his anti-nuclear views to one side by saying that the first new nuclear power stations would open in 2018.

"We are on course to make sure that the first new nuclear power station opens on time in 2018," Mr Huhne told the Today programme.

"There are a number of sites that have been identified around the country and those are generally on sites where we have previously had, for example, nuclear power stations and where the local people are very keen that there should be new nuclear build."

The energy secretary went out of his way to burnish his pro-nuclear credentials, insisting previous comments had only referred to the absence of private investment in nuclear power.

"I don't think you can determine whether a government is serious about energy policy merely in terms of whether it is prepared to write very large cheques," he said.

"It has always been clear that our next generation of electricity power stations are going to be built by private investors with a framework put in place.

"I believe, in talking to investors now, that it's clear, because of what's happening on the oil and gas price and because of what's happening on the carbon price, that there will be investment in new nuclear and that will be an important part of our energy mix - along, of course, with coal and gas, as long as there is carbon capture and storage, and along with renewables."

He added: "We have absolutely no intention of the lights going out on my watch, I can assure you, and that's going to be a mix of different technologies precisely because of the uncertainties which exist in the future about which are likely to be most effective."

Mr Huhne was responding to a Confederation of British Industry (CBI) report suggesting that up to £150 billion of private investment is at risk because UK energy policy is wracked by uncertainty.

Nuclear energy policy was one of the areas where the Lib Dems were allowed to abstain in the coalition agreement, but shadow energy secretary and Labour leadership contender Ed Miliband enjoyed highlighting the government's divisions on the subject during his Commons appearances.


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