Monday, November 28, 2005

Critics warn PM over nuclear power News - Latest News - Critics warn PM over nuclear power

Sun 27 Nov 2005

Critics warn PM over nuclear power
Opposition politicians and environmental campaigners have warned Tony Blair against giving his backing to a new generation of nuclear power plants amid cost and safety concerns.

They pointed to leaked comments from the Government's chief scientific adviser Sir David King in which he suggested that a levy on consumer bills may be needed to finance the plants.

The critics also cited research by the nuclear waste agency Nirex warning that most of the sites for potential plants are threatened by climate change.

The Prime Minister - who is thought to favour the nuclear option for the long-term - is expected to announce a review of energy policy on Tuesday.

Nuclear power met almost a quarter of Britain's energy needs in recent years but that will fall to just 4% by 2010 if ageing reactors are not replaced.

The Sunday Times reported that Sir David has suggested putting a levy on consumers' power bills to pay for up to 20 new plants.

Sir David proposed the charge as a way of ensuring that a resurgent nuclear industry - which has traditionally run at a loss - would be assured three or four decades of guaranteed profit on new reactors.

Glasgow's Sunday Herald newspaper said that the Nirex study suggested that a number of sites for potential nuclear plants were at risk from rising sea levels and coastal erosion, including Hunterston in North Ayrshire and Dounreay in Caithness.

Two nuclear sites in England - Bradwell in Essex and Berkeley in Gloucestershire - are virtually at sea level.

The massive nuclear complex at Sellafield in Cumbria and the nearby radioactive waste dump at Drigg are also said to be highly vulnerable to coastal erosion.


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