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Last Updated: Wednesday, 17 May 2006, 13:53 GMT 14:53 UK
Doubts over Blair's nuclear plan
Sellafield nuclear power station in Cumbria
The Sellafield plant employs thousands in Cumbria
Prime Minister Tony Blair has been told a new generation of nuclear power stations will only be welcome in Cumbria if safety issues are resolved.

Mr Blair said new nuclear plants were back on the agenda "with a vengeance".

Cumbria is already home to the giant Sellafield reprocessing complex and the Nuclear Decommissioning Agency (NDA).

Responding to Mr Blair's comments, Cumbria County Council said it welcomed the prospect of retained jobs, but wanted assurances on safety and waste.

Critics have accused Mr Blair of pre-empting the government's energy review, which is due to report in July.

Mr Blair told the CBI on Tuesday he had seen the "first cut" of the energy review.

'Well paid jobs'

He stressed if current policy remained unchanged there would be a "dramatic gap" on targets to reduce CO2 emissions by 2025, forcing Britain to become heavily dependent on gas.

But Cumbria County Council's cabinet spokesman on nuclear issues, Tim Heslop, said: "This is not the first indication that energy supply issues might mean that a British Government may decide to build a new generation of nuclear power stations.

"That prospect certainly holds some possibilities for Cumbria to keep or create skilled and well paid jobs and to bring investment to the area.

"We have made clear to the government in a considered response to the Energy Review, that there are serious issues such as safety, decommissioning costs and dealing with nuclear waste which have to be satisfactorily addressed before we could welcome the prospect of nuclear new build in Cumbria.

"The prime minister's speech might have put a new generation of reactors on the agenda 'with a vengeance', but we still do not know what the government's new energy policy will actually be."

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