Government to hasten nuclear study

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A Government review to determine the fate of the nuclear power industry will be brought forward in a concession to MPs, according to highly placed industry sources, writes Stephen Castle.

The move, which could pave the way for a cut in nuclear-generating capacity, was recommended by the Commons Trade and Industry Select Committee which proposed a speedier review in its report on the market for coal. A commitment to start this year on a nuclear review, scheduled for 1994, is now expected in the energy White Paper being drawn up by the President of the Board of Trade, Michael Heseltine.

The process was due to begin when Sizewell B was up and running and ministers committed themselves to a 1994 start 'in the light of progress in the completion of Sizewell B' in its prospectus for the sale of PowerGen. A new, earlier timetable would mean considering building more pressurised water reactors of the Sizewell B type while ministers are focusing on the scope for enlarging the market for coal. In such a context ministers are unlikely to give the go-ahead to more PWRs.