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Nuclear Power Industry

Volume 448: debated on Thursday 29 June 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how much the Government spent on nuclear power in each of the last five years. (80832)

The Government’s expenditure on civil nuclear energy from 2001 to 2006 is set out as follows.

Figures for direct Government expenditure (but not including spending by the Research Councils) on nuclear fission are given in the following table:

Financial year

Nuclear fission (£ million)

2001-02

2.0

2002-03

2.1

2003-04

2.1

2004-05

2.2

2005-06

2.3

Note: Expenditure is in support of emergency support arrangements provided by the Met Office in the event of a nuclear release into the atmosphere, and includes a contribution towards the cost of the underpinning meteorological modelling capability

In addition, expenditure by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council on research in aspects of nuclear fission is as follows:

Financial year

Nuclear fission (£ million)

2001-02

0.33

2002-03

0.31

2003-04

0.21

2004-05

0.11

2005-06

0.95

Figures for nuclear fusion R and D are given in the following table:

Financial year

Nuclear fission (£ million)

2001-02

14.4

2002-03

14.6

2003-04

15.6

2004-05

19.5

2005-06

17.0

In terms of British Energy, a loan facility was provided to the company in 2002 to support it through its restructuring. This loan was re-paid in full with interest in December 2003 and no further drawings can be made. As a result of the restructuring which completed in January 2005, the Government have taken direct financial responsibility for BE’s historic spent fuel liabilities. The following payments have been made since restructuring to meet those historic spent fuel liabilities: 2004-05— £185 million; 2005-06—£189 million. The Government are also underwriting British Energy’s decommissioning fund to the extent that its liabilities outweigh its assets. In return the company is making enhanced payments into the fund. On current valuations, the assets of the fund exceed the liabilities.

The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) assumed responsibility for the UK’s historic nuclear legacy on 1 April 2005. The legacy is made up of experimental facilities created 30 and 40 years ago and which were built without any consideration at the time for future decommissioning and clean up. About 80 per cent. of the total legacy costs relate to Sellafield and Dounreay—neither of which ever produced much electricity. In its approved Strategy the NDA set out its proposals for nuclear clean up which is estimated to be £62.7 billion. This is the life time cost of clean up—likely to take up to 100 years plus to implement.

Under the 2004 Spending Review the NDA received a budget of £2.2 billion for 2005-06—about half of which was to be raised by the NDA’s commercial activities. Following the successful conclusion of the EC State Aid Review on 4 April 2006, financial responsibility for decommissioning BNFL sites has passed to the NDA under the Energy Act 2004. Until this point BNFL held nuclear funding assets of some £17.3 billion on its balance sheet to fund future decommissioning costs. Following the transfer of the nuclear decommissioning liability to the NDA, these assets have been transferred back to the Government.

Figures relating to spend by the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs are unavailable and could be compiled only at disproportionate cost.