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New Nuclear Power Stations

Volume 518: debated on Thursday 11 November 2010

17. What steps he is taking to facilitate the construction of new nuclear power stations without public subsidy. (23161)

I am on a roll now. The coalition agreement makes it clear that nuclear power without subsidy has a role to play in our future energy mix. The Government are committed to removing obstacles to investment in new nuclear. These include designation of a nuclear national policy statement, completion of the required regulatory justification process, completion of a generic design assessment, and putting in place a robust regulatory framework for waste and decommissioning.

I thank my hon. Friend for his reply. Nuclear must be part of a diverse energy mix, but does he agree that it is now too late for new nuclear to come on line before the old capacity shuts down?

My hon. Friend emphasises absolutely the right point. We have a challenge coming in 2016 when one third of our coal plant will close. Another large chunk of coal will go towards the end of the decade, and most of our nuclear plant will close during this decade. Had it not been for the five-year moratorium on nuclear under the previous Government, we would have been five years ahead, and the energy security of this country would have been greatly enhanced.

As was mentioned earlier, it is critical to advance manufacturing that the new generation of power stations goes ahead. Companies such as Forgemasters are looking for certainty. Will the Minister guarantee that the building of new stations will go ahead, even if it proves necessary to provide some public subsidy?

We have said that we want international companies to look at the opportunities in Britain, and we are encouraged that it is increasingly becoming one of the most attractive places in the world for investment in new nuclear. We will remove barriers to investment, but there will not be public subsidy for such work, and companies are not asking for that. We are creating the right framework for investment to take place.