The first of the new plants will not be built until 2019 because of extra safety checks following Japan’s atomic disaster. Ministers originally hoped to get the first nuclear power station built by 2017, before revising this to 2018.
EDF Energy, the company building the first plant, has refused to give a “firm and final completion date” for nuclear power. A spokesman for the company said the 2019 date was only “indicative”.
The Coalition’s plans for building eight to 10 nuclear plants over the next decade were described last week as “simply lacking credibility” by peers in the House of Lords.
Charles Hendry, the energy minister, confirmed the plan to convert the UK’s giant stockpile of used plutonium into a form of nuclear fuel. He said: “While converting the plutonium into mixed oxide fuel is the most credible and technologically mature option, the Government remains open to any alternative proposals for plutonium management that offer better value to the taxpayer and will seek to gather more data on all options.”
It will now examine whether this will deliver value for money after the last one was described as “colossally inefficient” by campaign groups. The results of the assessment are expected next year.
Dr Douglas Parr, policy director at Greenpeace UK, warned that the new plant could become a “hugely expensive white elephant”.
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