HC Deb 05 July 2001 vol 371 cc281-2W
Mr. Damian Green

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what role nuclear power will play in the UK's climate change strategy; and if she will make a statement. [837]

Mr. Meacher

Nuclear power plays a role in helping the UK to meet our climate change targets. The Government believe that existing nuclear power stations should continue to contribute to the electricity supply and to the reduction of emissions, as long as they can do so to the high safety and environmental standards that are currently observed.

Nuclear output is however expected to decline from around 2005 onwards, as the older stations begin to close. Electricity generation is therefore likely to become more carbon-intensive unless other low or zero carbon energy sources can be developed. There are currently no proposals for new nuclear power stations in the UK, largely due to nuclear's inability to compete on cost grounds with other types of generation. Issues related to waste disposal and public acceptability would also need to be resolved before industry put forward any proposals for approval. The Government will shortly be publishing a consultation document on radioactive waste policy. Internationally, the industry is addressing disposal issues through its research and development programmes into current and future technology, recognising that they need to be addressed effectively if nuclear power is to remain an option in the future.

The Government announced on 25 June that the performance and innovation unit is undertaking a review of the longer term, strategic issues, including those of climate change, surrounding energy policy within the context of ensuring secure, diverse and sustainable energy supplies at competitive prices.