The Government has today published a response to its "Future of Nuclear Power" consultation in the form of a Nuclear White Paper. It has also invited energy companies to bring forward plans to build and operate new nuclear power stations, believing that in light of the dual challenges of climate change and security of supply, "…evidence in support of new nuclear power stations is compelling." 

Energy Minister, John Hutton said that while the Government would take steps to open up the way for the construction of new power stations, "…it will be for energy companies to fund, develop and build new nuclear power stations...including meeting the full costs of decommissioning and their full share of waste management costs." 

To encourage nuclear investment the Government is proposing to take forward a number of key steps over the coming months including:

  • the publication today of the Energy Bill, including clauses requiring developers to make adequate funding provision for decommissioning and a full share of waste management costs(a consultation on the proposed arrangements is anticipated in February/March);
  • a strengthening of the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate to reflect its growing workload;
  • scoping the role of a new advisory board - the Nuclear Liabilities Financing Assurance Board - to provide advice to the Government on financial arrangements planned by operators to cover decommissioning and waste management costs;
  • making use of the Planning Bill provisions to facilitate a faster planning system for new nuclear build;
  • publishing a consultation on Strategic Siting Assessment criteria which will be used to rule out areas where there are no suitable sites and establish a framework for assessing proposed sites (most of which are expected to be near existing facilities);
  • announcing commencement of the process for choosing reactor designs for the next stage of the Generic Design Assessment; and
  • working with other Member States to strengthen the EU Emissions Trading Scheme to allow investors to consider strategic decisions against the background of a meaningful, long-term carbon price.

In the waste context, DEFRA has today published its analysis of responses to the "Managing Radioactive Waste Safely Consultation" with a White Paper, setting out the framework for geological disposal due out in the Spring.