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Nuclear Power

Volume 568: debated on Thursday 17 October 2013

The Government are committed to securing the right conditions for investment in new nuclear power in the UK. This is the first nuclear programme in a generation and it is progressing well, with projects to build new power plants moving forward with EDF, Horizon Nuclear Power and NuGen. Between them, those projects involve plans to develop at least 12 new reactors on five different sites.

My constituents are extremely concerned about future energy prices and continuity of supply. With one fifth of UK generating capacity due to come offline within the next decade, does the Minister agree that we need to bring forward this new nuclear capacity as a matter of extreme urgency?

Yes, I do. We are living with the legacy of 13 wasted years in which absolutely nothing was done to replace our ageing nuclear stations. Under this coalition Government plans are now progressing, as I said, and we have every prospect of 12 new reactors on five separate sites.

The Minister will know that I am not a convert to nuclear power, but I accept that the coalition Government have done a deal that says there will be no nuclear power that has public subsidy—so public subsidy will not be provided. How is the Government’s position reconcilable with an application for derogation from the EU rules on state aid?

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State’s predecessor set out to this House the circumstances in which support would be offered for the new nuclear technology we are negotiating on with EDF in respect of Hinkley C. When we conclude those negotiations—which I hope we will do very shortly—we will, of course, report the details of the investment contract to the House. I also note that the party of my right hon. Friend the Member for Bermondsey and Old Southwark (Simon Hughes) is now a supporter of nuclear power.

The Minister may be aware that when Hinkley Point C comes onstream it will produce as much electricity in a year as every single onshore and offshore wind turbine we currently have. Given that, will he assure the House that there will not be a further 10-year delay in respect of future nuclear stations?

Nuclear power is a very important part of our energy mix and of our future energy security, which makes it all the more criminal that nothing was done for the long, long period of the Labour Government to replace the nuclear stations that are coming offline in the late 2020s and 2030s.