BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific Russian Polish Albanian Greek Czech Ukrainian Serbian Turkish Romanian
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: Europe  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
LANGUAGES
EDITIONS
Friday, 6 December, 2002, 15:22 GMT
Belgium set to ditch nuclear energy
Superphenix nuclear breeder reactor in France
Belgium is the world's most nuclear-reliant country after France
The lower house of the Belgian parliament has voted to phase out nuclear energy by 2025, following months of debate on nuclear safety.


The first reactors will be dismantled by February 2015, the last in 2025

Environment Minister Olivier Deleuze
The bill orders the shutting of the country's seven reactors after 40 years of use and bans the construction of new ones.

The measure - part of the election manifesto of Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt's centre-left coalition government - is expected to be approved by the Senate within weeks.

The legislation makes Belgium one of five European Union nations committed in principle to abandoning nuclear energy, along with Germany, the Netherlands, Spain and Sweden.

Nuclear energy currently supplies 60% of Belgian electricity needs, making it the country most dependent on nuclear power after France.

The government will invest in solar, wind and other renewable energy resources as well as build more gas plants to compensate for the loss of nuclear power.

The bill's backers say it will eliminate the risk of a disastrous accident at one of the reactors and reduce the problem of dealing with radioactive waste.

On average in Europe, nuclear energy meets about one third of consumers' needs.

'No reason'

The Belgian Environment Minister, Olivier Deleuze, said he did not expect electricity prices to rise, thanks to the forthcoming liberalisation of domestic markets across the EU.


There is today not any single reason, be it technical, economic or ecological, to close the plants ahead of time

Electrabel spokeswoman
"The first reactors will be dismantled by February 2015; the last in 2025," said Mr Deleuze, a member of the Green Party, who championed the bill.

But Electrabel, the power company which owns the reactors, has urged the government to reconsider, arguing that the phase-out is not economically feasible.

"We deplore this decision because there is today not any single reason, be it technical, economic or ecological, to close the plants ahead of time," a spokeswoman told Belgian radio.

Electrabel says the government should have conducted a study on viable alternatives to nuclear power before introducing such a bill.

It also argues that the closure will hinder Belgium's commitments to reduce its greenhouse gas output under the Kyoto Protocol.

Belgium has seven nuclear reactors, four at the Doel power plant near Antwerp and three in the eastern town of Tihange.

Links to more Europe stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Europe stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes