Letter: Balance sheet all on the debit side as 30,000 British miners see their jobs destroyed

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The Independent Online
Sir: Everyone in the energy industry is deeply affected by the plight of the miners, their families and the communities hit by the announcement from British Coal. But that announcement itself referred to 'heavily subsidised nuclear power, which has a guaranteed market for all its output'. Not true, on either count.

The levy is not a subsidy indefinitely supporting Nuclear Electric's operations. It is primarily a means of providing for the inherited liabilities tied to the first-generation Magnox stations, built in the wake of the Suez crisis to ensure that Britain had diversity and balance in its energy supplies. What is more, the levy will come down in real terms each year, from its present pounds 1.2bn to pounds 750m in 1997/98, when it is due to cease.

Nuclear Electric does not have a guaranteed market for its output. If we are not commercial, we fail. But we are succeeding. We are on track to be generating operating profits within three years and we are building our first pressurised water reactor at Sizewell B ahead of time and within budget. Similar PWRs are already producing electricity more cheaply than fossil-fuelled plants around the world, both for public- and private-sector utilities.

This is the shape for the future - a future where nuclear and coal, operating commercially, are natural partners, because nuclear power stations do not produce carbon dioxide or acid rain emissions. A UK energy future without coal is unthinkable. A future for coal without nuclear providing an environmental balance is impossible.

Yours faithfully,


Chief Executive

Nuclear Electric


14 October