New UK nuclear plant approved

(File, <a href=\http://www.shutterstock.com\>Shutterstock</a>)
(File, <a href=\http://www.shutterstock.com\>Shutterstock</a>)

London - Britain gave the go-ahead on Tuesday for the first of a planned new generation of nuclear power plants.

Energy minister Ed Davey told parliament he was granting planning consent for French energy giant EDF to build a new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point in Somerset, southwest England.

The proposed €16.2bn power station will be capable of producing seven percent of Britain's electricity, enough to power five million homes, EDF has said.

Davey said affordable nuclear power would play a "crucial role" in ensuring secure, diverse supplies of energy in Britain and decarbonising the electricity sector and the economy.

EDF is still in negotiations with the government over what it can charge for electricity produced by the plant, known as the "strike" price.

Hinkley Point, to be operated by EDF subsidiary NNB Generation, will be the first new nuclear power plant in Britain since Sizewell B, which started generating electricity in 1995.

It is estimated the project will create between 20 000 and 25 000 jobs while it is being built and 900 permanent jobs once it goes into operation.

The announcement was welcomed by British industry, but environmental groups reacted angrily to the news.

Technologies becoming cheaper

They raised concerns that the government will agree to an inflated strike price in order to get the nuclear plant built, and over the issue of nuclear waste.

Greenpeace executive director John Sauven said Hinkley Point failed the test on economic, consumer and environmental grounds.

"It will lock a generation of consumers into higher energy bills, via a strike price that's expected to be double the current price of electricity, and it will distort energy policy by displacing newer, cleaner, cheaper technologies," he said.

"With companies now saying the price of offshore wind will drop so much it will be on par with nuclear by 2020, there is no rationale for allowing Hinkley C to proceed."

He added: "Giving it the green light when there is no credible plan for dealing with the waste could also be in breach of the law."

While Britain is among European nations pursuing nuclear power, Germany has said it will phase out its nuclear plants by 2022.

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