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No shift on nuclear power – Carmichael

SHETLAND and Orkney MP Alistair Carmichael has said his position on nuclear energy has not changed after the coalition government announced eight sites for new nuclear power stations in England and Wales.

On Monday, energy and climate change secretary Chris Huhne said that nuclear energy would play a key part in ensuring the UK’s energy security, but insisted that there would be “no levy, direct payment or market support” for the industry.

However, the government would take on financial liabilities in case of accidents.

During a visit to Shetland earlier this month, Mr Huhne said there were no proposals for new stations in Scotland as the county “clearly does not want nuclear power”.

Speaking to the Shetland News on Monday, Mr Carmichael said Mr Huhne’s statement in the Commons would enable for new nuclear power.

But there was no guarantee that any new power plants were to be built south of the border because this would include the costs for decommissioning and waste management, he said.

“All that is happening here is that private electricity companies are being given the opportunity to go ahead with applications for nuclear power stations if they could do so without public subsidy.

“If the nuclear industry thinks that they can build them and make money from them, and that includes the commissioning and decommissioning costs, then subject to the constrains of regulations, they are allowed to do that.”

Clarifying his own position on the contentious issue, he added: “We would never say that we would close down the nuclear industry tomorrow. We said we would not support any more nuclear power stations, and we are not.

“What I would have real trouble with was if government was building them like government used to build power stations; if it was commissioned by government and paid for by the taxpayer, which it is not.

“This is exactly the position we stood on in the general election, it is our manifesto position and it is what is in the coalition agreement.

“I am sure that people will understand that this is not a case of the government building nuclear power stations. I am still not an enthusiast of nuclear power; that has not changed,” he said.