A new generation of nuclear power stations could be built on the sites of any of 60 existing coal or gas-fired power plants, according to a government paper released yesterday.
The Government announced a five-month consultation exercise on its plans for new nuclear plants by the private sector but a private consultants' report for the Department of Trade and Industry raised suspicions that the consultation is a sham.
Critics called the consultation a "farce" and nuclear power would be a "dangerous, dirty white elephant". The report says new nuclear plants should be built predominantly in the South-east where the main demand for energy exists.
Last Mod: 24 Mayıs 2007, 12:01
Many of the plants are on the coast, and could be at risk of flooding as a result of climate change causing a catastrophic rise in sea levels. But the report by Jackson Consulting says higher defences could be built to avoid coastal sites being ruled out.
The engineers said the new plants should preferably be sited on existing nuclear plants, but they could also be based at existing coal-fired or gas-fired power plants and a third option could be to build new nuclear plants on greenfield sites. It says a DTI expert group had already identified 12 sites potentially suitable for a new single reactor and 10 of the sites could be suitable for new twin reactors.
The report grades the sites green, amber or red for their suitability for new reactors.
Those graded green are: Hinkley Point on the Somerset coast, Sizewell on the Suffolk coast, Bradwell on the Essex coast, Dungeness on the coast of Kent, Hunterston and Torness in Scotland, Hartlepool in north-east England, Wylfa in Wales, and Heysham in Lancashire.
Graded amber are: Calder Hall in Cumbria, Oldbury near Bristol, and Chapelcross near the Solway estuary in Scotland.
Britain's first private sector nuclear plant at Berkeley on the Severn estuary in Gloucestershire and Trydydd in Snowdonia, north Wales, are graded red as not suitable for new nuclear plants because of other problems with the sites.
Greenpeace said they had been trying under Freedom of Information rules to obtain the report since last year but it had been denied to them until yesterday when it was published on a website. The DTI put a disclaimer on the report, saying it was not government policy, but it will be seen as a blueprint for the future development of nuclear power.
Mr Blair told MPs: "If we want to have secure energy supplies and reduce CO2 emissions, we have got to put the issue of nuclear power on the agenda."
Nuclear power was at the centre of the White Paper on energy published yesterday by the Trade Secretary, Alistair Darling. The document was delayed by Greenpeace demanding more consultation on nuclear power and Mr Darling said he was meeting the demands of the courts by allowing five months of consultation. Susan Kramer of the Liberal Democrats said: "This consultation is a total farce. Ministers have clearly already decided to back nuclear."
That view will be strengthened by the disclosure that an outline plan for the new nuclear power plants already existed. The planning White Paper will cut down the time for planning inquiries from several years to nine months.
Alan Duncan, the Tory energy spokesman, attacked the Government for failing to more explicit over its plans for nuclear power. Under the White Paper, all householders will have to get "smart" meters within 10 years that will enable electricity companies to read their meters without calling at their homes.
Source: Independent and Telegraph