Vincent de Rivaz, head of the UK arm of EDF, has told a Sunday newspaper that his firm would want real assurances from government before committing to building new nuclear stations in the UK.

Mr de Rivaz’s comments were reported in the Observer newspaper and follow reports in recent days that government ministers are themselves concerned about the possible costs of a new-build nuclear program.

The prospect of new reactors being built has become far more certain in the past week following prime minister Tony Blair’s comments that nuclear power was back on the agenda with a vengeance. However it seems almost certain that the government will want the private sector to carry most of the financial risk for the project – a rarity in nuclear power projects elsewhere in the world.

The Observer reports that Mr de Rivaz demands a thorough overhaul of planning regulations that would limit the approval procedure for new reactors to two years, and a cross-party consensus that would see any incoming Conservative government also commit to the project.

He also believes that nuclear would have to be classified as a non-carbon emitting energy source under the terms of the EU’s emissions trading scheme.