UK's nuclear power likely to get green signal

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London, Dec 30: Defying the legal challenge from environmentalists and a damaging revolt from opposition leaders, UK ministers are set to back a new generation of nuclear power stations in the country.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown's first cabinet meeting of the new year is due to nod through the decision next week with Secretary of State for Business and Enterprise, John Hutton, expected to confirm it to the House of Commons on January 7. Greenpeace, which overturned the Government's last attempt to usher in a ''new atomic age'' when a judge ruled that the decision-making process had been flawed, is confident of repeating the successful tactic.

The pro-nuclear decision, which follows a five-month public consultations, would be made within days, The Independent quoted official sources as saying.

''Given the circumstances we will be facing over the coming years, it is inconceivable that we should prevent nuclear from being part of our energy mix,'' they added.

Ministers' hope that this will put an end to their accident-prone attempts to ensure an atomic future were, however, likely to be confounded. Greenpeace had already written to the Treasury solicitor with evidence that the process has been marred by similar flaws that caused the last decision to be invalidated.

Professor Gordon MacKerron of Sussex University, who until last year headed the Government's committee on radioactive waste management, has lent his weight to the Greenpeace challenge, telling ministers that he has ''serious misgivings about the legitimacy of the consultation process''.

While the government's stance on the economics of nuclear power was ''overly optimistic'', there were substantial risks involved in it, he said.


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