The dispute between German companies and the government coalition grows worse.

The utilities are asking for firm promises on the remaining operating periods of their nuclear power plants for at least 35 full power years and – if there is an agreed consensus – unhindered transport of used fuel elements to interim stores and the reprocessing plants in France and UK.

However, the Social Democrats and Greens are keen to reach a decision to close one or two of the older plants before their forthcoming party conventions in March.

Because of the current impossibility of the transporting used fuel, nine nuclear plants have applied for licenses for interim stores at their sites.

Several transport licenses for used fuel elements and radioactive wastes are being prepared by the Office for Radiation Protection. Applications have been submitted by Biblis, Neckarwestheim and Philippsburg for transport to the Ahaus interim store and reprocessing plants at La Hague and Sellafield. However, German police said it could not guarantee protection against disturbances, and thus licenses may not be issued.