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The BBC's Raphael Jesurum
"Renewable energy sources make a fractional contribution at the moment, a third of Germany's energy comes from nuclear plants"
 real 56k

Rainer Loske, spokesman for Green Party
"It is more attractive to go for a sustainable path"
 real 28k

Tuesday, 12 June, 2001, 07:14 GMT 08:14 UK
Germany signs end to nuclear power
Biblis nuclear power station, Germany
The last nuclear power station will close in 2021
Germany has signed a historic agreement to entirely phase out nuclear energy over the next 20 years.

Juergen Trittin
Juergen Trittin came under fire from some environmentalists
Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and representatives of the nuclear industry signed the deal which gives each of Germany's 19 nuclear power plants a 32-year life span.

This means the first plant is set to close in 2003, while the newest plant will keep running until 2021.

Germany is home to a strong Green and anti-nuclear lobby and the pledge to negotiate an end to nuclear energy was a keystone of the coalition agreement between Mr Schroeder's Social Democrats and the Greens.

Green 'sell-out'

"It is a historic moment," Environment Minister Juergen Trittin told the Tagespiegel newspaper.

"Overseas in particular it is considered as such, as Germany is committing itself to a complete ecological programme that contrasts with those in other countries," he added.

But Mr Trittin, himself from the Green party, has come under fire from a section of the environmentalists' lobby which believes he has sold out in subscribing to the deal.

anti-nuclear demonstration, Lueneburg
Protesters held up trains carrying nuclear waste earlier this year
They demand a more immediate end to the use of nuclear energy.

He has been particularly criticised for backing down from his initial demand that the transport of nuclear waste in Germany be banned at the beginning of 2000.

Now July 2005 is the deadline for waste transports to stop leaving Germany but there is still no date for when transports will no longer be allowed into the country.

Environmentalists chained themselves to train tracks earlier this year in protest at trains carrying nuclear waste through Germany.

Security

The nuclear industry, which produces one-third of Germany's energy, says the deal provides it with security in face of ever-decreasing acceptance of nuclear energy by the German public.

"The federal government has guaranteed the uninterrupted operation and the disposal of our power stations in the long term. For the industry this means the end of large, incalculable economic risks," Gert Maichel of RWE Power AG told the Welt am Sonntag newspaper.

The signing of the deal closes a chapter in Mr Schroeder's policy which frequently threatened the stability of the coalition.

The agreement will now be debated by the German government and is expected to come into force by the end of the year.

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See also:

09 May 01 | Europe
Police guard German nuclear train
23 Apr 01 | Europe
Germany's nuclear waste headache
26 Mar 01 | Europe
Nuclear nightmare for Greens
28 Mar 01 | Europe
Germany's anti-nuclear protesters
28 Mar 01 | Sci/Tech
Nuclear waste: A long-lived legacy
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