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Last Updated: Tuesday, 28 February 2006, 17:06 GMT
Consumers 'will pay nuclear bill'
Hunterston B nuclear power station
The UK's ageing nuclear plants are being phased out
Electricity bills will have to go up if the government builds a new generation of nuclear power stations, the Green Party has warned.

It claims the government is determined to push ahead with nuclear power despite evidence it is uneconomic.

The government says it is considering nuclear as part of an energy review but has not yet made up its mind.

The report comes as Tony Blair admitted there was a "long way to go" to tackle climate change.

'Not pre-ordained'

The government sees new nuclear plants as a "carbon-free" alternative to coal and oil - and a more secure source of energy than gas supplied by foreign states such as Russia, as North Sea supplies dwindle.

But the DTI insists its current policy review, which is being carried out by energy minister Malcolm Wicks is "not a foregone conclusion".

"It is not a bogus review and there isn't a conclusion that is pre-ordained," a spokesman told the BBC News Website.

The review is looking at both sides of the argument, he added, including the issue of nuclear waste, the costs involved and "public concerns around security".

It is also looking at ways of increasing renewable energy sources, already the subject of major investment by the government, he added.

But the Green Party says its "alternative energy review" looks at measures not being considered by the government.

'Inferior choice'

Green Party principal speaker Caroline Lucas MEP said: "Tony Blair is determined to push this country down the nuclear route, based on two arguments: guaranteeing affordable energy supply, and reducing carbon emissions.

"The Alternative Energy Review proves what anti-nuclear campaigners have long suspected - that, even using these criteria, nuclear power is the inferior choice.

"It shows that a twin-pronged investment in renewable alternatives and energy efficiency and conservation measures will not only deliver greater emissions reductions than nuclear power, it will deliver them more cheaply, and all without the huge safety risks inherent in the nuclear option."

The co-author of the Green Party report, Dr David Toke, said talk of a looming energy gap as North Sea oil runs out had been exaggerated and ministers had been swayed by the powerful and well-funded nuclear lobby.


He said there should be a centrally-organised programme of "demand reduction" - forcing companies to cut their use of electricity use through better efficiency.

Far more wind farms should also be built, he argued, and electronics companies should be fined if they did not scrap the "stand-by" button on computers and televisions, which he said was a major drain on energy supplies.

All of these measures meant consumers would pay less for their electricity, even if it meant possible increases in costs associated with energy efficiency, he told reporters.

"Do people want to pay more for nuclear power that will increase their bills, or do they want to pay for energy efficiencies that will reduce their bills?," he asked.

The Lib Dems have also attacked nuclear power for being uneconomic.

The Conservatives are currently reviewing their energy policy. Zac Goldsmith, deputy chair of the party's environment policy review, due to report in 18 months time, is strongly opposed to it.

Earlier on Tuesday, Mr Blair acknowledged there was still a "long way to go" to tackle climate change and pledged to work hard with other European leaders to extend the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) beyond 2012.

He said the ETS must be more robust and he hoped there would be agreement on a range of new measures to increase energy efficiency.

He made his pledge as he met green umbrella group "Stop Climate Chaos" in Downing Street.

The government's advisory body on the environment, the Sustainable Development Commission, is due to release its advice on nuclear power on Monday, following a year-long investigation.

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