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Last Updated: Thursday, 10 January 2008, 13:45 GMT
Nuclear plants get the go-ahead
Hinkley Point
Hinkley Point has already been identified as a likely site
The government has given the green light to a new generation of nuclear power stations, and top of the list is likely to be Hinkley Point in Somerset.

While details of exact locations have not been disclosed, it is expected that Hinkley Point will play a major part.

In May, a confidential report cited the area as the best place to build a new power station.

And locals are already used to living in the shadows of two nuclear stations - Hinkley Point A and B.

Opposition expected

Nigel Cann, station director at Hinkley Point, said: "Hinkley has got the site, the people and the skills to be involved in building a new nuclear power plant.

"It is really good news for the people of Somerset."

Hinkley Point A closed in 2000, but site B, which is to be decommissioned by 2016, is currently working at 70% of its capacity.

When running at full tilt, it can supply one million homes with electricity.

Protesters at Hinkley Point
Protesters have gathered at Hinkley Point

Opposition to the plans is expected, with Greenpeace and local environment groups poised to challenge the government's decision from the start.

A group of protesters gathered at Hinkley after the decision was announced on Thursday.

But if the protests fail, a new power plant in Somerset could be up and running by 2017.

British Energy, which owns Hinkley Point, said it was undertaking detailed assessments of the site, including environmental, geological and marine studies.

A statement said: "In November, the company secured transmission connection agreements with National Grid from 2016 onwards.

"Subject to National Grid obtaining the necessary consents, this added connection capacity will accommodate any potential new nuclear power stations at [Hinkley]."

Elsewhere in the West Country, Oldbury Power station near Bristol is due to close next year and Berkeley power station in Gloucestershire has already closed.

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