United Kingdom- Plutonium Investigation n°3

The Government's Nuclear Review 1995

In 1989, while the British government was making decisions on the privatisation of the electricity sector, it became clear that it would not be possible to incorporate nuclear power stations in the privatisation process. Nuclear generated electricity turned out to be at least twice as expensive as figures on public record had suggested until then. Also, liabilities for waste management and dismantling stayed highly uncertain. In 1989 the Government held a moratorium on any decision to build new nuclear power plants, until 1994 and until a review of the whole nuclear power sector had been undertaken. This review, which was carried out by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the Scottish Office Industry Department, in consultation with other Government Departments, was completed in May 1995.

Concerning the potential effect of nuclear power on global climate change, the Government concluded that there was "no evidence to support the view that new nuclear power build is needed in the near future on emissions abatement grounds". The Government stated in addition that providing public sector funds for the construction of new nuclear power stations could "not be justified on the grounds of wider economic benefits and would not, therefore, be in the best interests of either electricity consumers or the taxpayer". The nuclear review therefore prolonged the 1989 moratorium on new nuclear power financed by the public sector. No private electricity operator seems interested in nuclear power while investment in gas stations is massive. The UK is thus drifting towards a "natural" nuclear phase-out beginning early next century with the end of the operating lifetime of existing nuclear power plants.

Back to contents               To be continued