Brown outlines four sites for nuclear power stations

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Indy Politics

Four sites were earmarked for the new generation of nuclear power stations yesterday as Gordon Brown gave the clearest signal so far that he will give the go-ahead in the New Year for a major expansion of Britain's nuclear power output.

British Energy said the existing sites at Sizewell in Suffolk, Dungeness in Kent, Hinkley in Somerset and Bradwell in Essex were the most likely sites for new reactors. But Environmental protesters were furious yesterday that the Government also published a planning Bill designed to speed up permission to build controversial schemes such as nuclear power stations.

The rush for nuclear energy was delayed in February by a High Court injunction won by Greenpeace, but that has now ended.

Mr Brown made it clear yesterday that a decision would be announced in January, but did not retreat from the Government's proposals "that there should be a new generation of nuclear power stations".

Despite protesters' objections, the Prime Minister said: "Long term we have got to have a better planning system, and we need to deal with the question of how we can meet the sustainable energy needs of our country for the future."

The Friends of the Earth nuclear campaigner Neil Crumpton said building new nuclear reactors was "crazy". He added: "The new reactor designs are all untested prototypes, and the shortage of skills and component availability to build new stations would seriously compromise speedy or safe deployment."

The Planning Reform Bill will put some of the most controversial schemes to a new infrastructure planning commission to take decisions on applications. The aim is to cut lengthy delays to less than a year, saving £300m annually. It will also cut red tape for householders to install small-scale renewable power sources.

The Friends of the Earth director, Tony Juniper, warned: "The Government proposals... put big business ahead of local people and the environment. Controversial projects such as climate-damaging airports, incinerators and roads will be fast-tracked through the planning process."

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