Huhne ‘dancing around’ nuclear stance

Energy Secretary Chris Huhne has come under fire for fudging the Government’s stance on nuclear power. In a House of Commons debate, the Energy Secretary was criticised by his shadow […]

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By Vicky Ellis

Energy Secretary Chris Huhne has come under fire for fudging the Government’s stance on nuclear power.

In a House of Commons debate, the Energy Secretary was criticised by his shadow counterpart Meg Hillier. She said: “It is fascinating hearing the Secretary of State dance around on this issue. “I welcome his remarks as far as they go – safety is paramount in nuclear power – but he has made some comments over the past few days and has today failed to be emphatic about the Government’s position on nuclear. Will he make it clear?”

She added that the Energy Secretary was confusing investors: “He has used words such as “we envisage a role”, he has pointed again to a study of a future without nuclear on his departmental website; and he has talked in The Observer about an “80% reduction in emissions…without new nuclear” if we invest more in renewables. Those are red herring statements. Will he be emphatic and make it clear to investors what the Government’s position is on new nuclear? Will he tell us clearly: is he backing new nuclear?”

Mr Huhne defended the Government’s stance, and said: “I do not think investors are under any illusions about the position. At the Nuclear Development Forum, I said very clearly that we continue with the plans as set out in the coalition agreement, and that we envisage a role for new nuclear and want to see new nuclear come on, but that we have to put an emphasis on safety. That is why we commissioned Dr Mike Weightman’s report.”

The Chief Nuclear Inspector has been asked to report on the impact the Japanese nuclear disaster could have on the UK nuclear sector.

Mr Huhne said it was too early to tell what affect this would have on businesses: “I do not anticipate that it will lead to enormous changes, but we will have to wait to see its results and base the debate on the facts.”