Page last updated at 11:12 GMT, Tuesday, 19 July 2011 12:12 UK

Huhne sets out UK nuclear energy future

The Energy and Climate Change Secretary Chris Huhne admitted to Peers on 19 July 2011 that the UK was unlikely to become a "world leader" in nuclear energy.

He gave evidence as part of an inquiry by the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee into the future of nuclear power in the UK.

In June the government confirmed a list of eight sites it deems suitable for new power stations by 2025, all of which are adjacent to existing nuclear sites.

However Mr Huhne said he wanted a "portfolio" of energy sources, rather than focusing purely on nuclear energy.

He told peers: "We may not get the long term decision 100% right - but equally we won't get it 100% wrong."

He faced criticism from former Energy Secretary Lord Jenkin of Roding who said "there is an attitude that the UK doesn't care about nuclear power any more".

The future of nuclear as a power source for countries around the world was called into question after the Fukushima disaster in March, when a Japanese earthquake and tsunami damaged the nuclear reactors, leaving radioactivity leaking from the plant.

The proposals for new UK nuclear power plants are part of a series of national policy statements on energy which have been published following a public consultation.

The coalition deal allowed Lib Dem spokesmen to speak out against any new nuclear plants, while Lib Dem MPs could abstain on the issue.

Mr Huhne has given his backing to new reactors but has stressed that they would not be subsidised by the taxpayer.

Governments across the world have reviewed the future of nuclear power following the Fukushima disaster, with Germany already announcing a withdrawal from nuclear energy.

Mr Huhne insisted that nuclear safety remained a top priority for his department, saying he was "committed to an increase in research and development" in safety issues, and assured the committee that safety was not subject to financial constraints under the Spending Review.

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