THE British government's Energy Review published yesterday proposes that a new generation of nuclear power stations should be built to replace the existing ageing plants. Predictable protests followed from those who are fundamentally opposed to nuclear generation of power either on principle or because they believe the so-called “renewables” approach is preferable. But given that the Review proposes that nuclear power should provide only six per cent of electricity supplies in the next 20 years, compared with 20 per cent today, the decision does not seem a very bold one. The government is right to grasp the nettle of future energy supplies. As Alistair Darling, the Trade and Industry minister, said yesterday, Britain is about to become a net importer of energy and therefore it makes sense at least to replace the existing nuclear power stations which will be decommissioned with 20 years. At the same time every effort must be made to maximise the output from wind and wave power and to increase efficiency in energy usage. The aim should be to have a range of sources for energy supplies in the future so that the country is not dependent on any one. A related point made by Mr Darling is the need to simplify and speed-up planning proceedings for new power stations and wind farms. Currently these can drag on for years, but the government will meet strong opposition in any attempt to limit the right to oppose new developments.


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