Government lays down the law on future nuclear generators

The Secretary of State for Energy has promised to learn the lessons of previous Governments who failed to effectively deal with the UK’s nuclear legacy. Mr Davey said DECC would […]

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By Tom Gibson

The Secretary of State for Energy has promised to learn the lessons of previous Governments who failed to effectively deal with the UK’s nuclear legacy. Mr Davey said DECC would ensure new nuclear does not fall into the pitfalls of the past and operators would have to cover the costs of their waste and decommissioning.

The Energy Secretary said nuclear power companies would have to become much more accountable. Mr Davey said: “The public purse is now picking up the tab for previous mistakes. This kind of short-sightedness cannot and will not be allowed to happen again. We will not place a costly new millstone around the neck of future generations.

“The coalition wants to see new nuclear power come forward as part of a balanced energy mix. It is secure, low carbon and will support thousands of jobs in construction and operation. But there will be no subsidy, operators will be required to put money aside from day one to meet future clean up and waste costs and we intend to substantially increase operators’ third party liabilities.”

Government has also released a report which details the UK’s mixed history of managing nuclear waste. The main author, Professor Gordon MacKerron of SPRU (Science and Technology Policy Research), University of Sussex, identified failures such as the amount of thought put into the decommissioning of facilities.

As a result the formation of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority and the ring fencing of funding for nuclear waste increased significantly.

Professor MacKerron said: “For decades minimal attention was paid to deteriorating nuclear facilities – and the cost of remediating them is consequently now much higher, probably by several billion pounds, than it would have been had serious work started up to two decades ago.”