UK Gov't Keeps Nuclear Power Option Open

Will reconsider building more nuclear plants if renewable energy targets are now met.

Published: 29-Jan-2005

align=justify>The Government said tonight it could consider again the nuclear option if targets for renewable energy – including wind farms – are not met.

Junior trade and industry minister Lord Sainsbury of Turville was responding to question time challenges in the Lords.

He said: “We have not ruled out the nuclear option and if we are not going to be able to achieve our targets, we will consider nuclear power again.”

Baroness Miller of Hendon, for Tories, said: “Communities must have a say over where wind turbines and wind farms are placed.

“The Prime Minister has supported and listened to his local community in helping stop four wind turbines being sited near to Sedgefield. Given that, how is anyone ever going to meet their targets?”

Lord Sainsbury said: “Across the country, including in the Prime Minister’s constituency, there should be the ability to object to this as part of people’s democratic right.

“All wind turbines have to go through the planning process.”

He said total installed wind power capacity up to December was 890 megawatts – 766 onshore and 124 offshore.

“The challenge we have, to achieve the 2010 target of 10%, means that we need to build the equivalent of 1,200 megawatts of new wind capacity on average each year.”

He added: “Capacity is now being built at a rapidly increasing rate but we still have a long way to go.”

Labour’s Lord Tomlinson said the targets were “remarkably long on optimism and short on realism, particularly when you consider that the 2010 target has got to be doubled again by 2020.

“If we fail on either of those targets, it will be imperative that we have non-carbon producing electricity generation. That requires the sustenance and maintenance of our nuclear capacity.”

Lord Sainsbury said the 2020 target would only be achievable by bringing in other renewable energy sources. “That’s why we will be putting more than £500 million between 2002 and 2008 into emerging renewables and low-carbon technologies.

“We have not ruled out the nuclear option and if we are not going to be able to achieve our targets, we will consider nuclear power again.”

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