In a series of energy policy statements the UK government has highlighted what it calls the need for nuclear power int he generation mix and has published its draft Nuclear National Policy Statement (NPS), which names ten sites suitable for new nuclear deployment by the end of 2025. The document sets out why new nuclear power is needed, and says that the government is satisfied there will be ‘effective arrangements’ to manage and dispose of the waste generated from new plants. It has also outlined plans to fast-track nuclear site applications, currently a notoriously slow process in the UK, promising that final decisions will be made within twelve months of the receipt of an application.

Ten of the eleven sites nominated by industry in March have been assessed as potentially suitable for new nuclear deployment by the end of 2025: Bradwell, Braystones, Hartlepool, Heysham, Hinkley Point, Kirksanton, Oldbury, Sellafield, Sizewell and Wylfa.

Dungeness in Kent was also nominated, but the government has not listed it in the NPS owing to the environmental impact of a new plant and concerns about coastal erosion and flood risk at that site.

Three alternative sites were also considered: Druridge Bay in Northumberland, Kingsnorth in Kent and Owston Ferry in South Yorkshire. However none of these have been listed in the draft Nuclear NPS after it was concluded that all three sites have serious impediments, none is credible for deployment by the end of 2025, nor are they necessary for the government’s plans for new nuclear.

Energy and Climate Secretary Ed Miliband said:

“The threat of climate change means we need to make a transition from a system that relies heavily on high carbon fossil fuels, to a radically different system that includes nuclear, renewable and clean coal power.

“The current planning system is a barrier to this shift. It serves neither the interests of energy security, the interests of the low carbon transition, nor the interests of people living in areas where infrastructure may be built, for the planning process to take years to come to a decision.

“That is why we are undertaking fundamental reform of the planning system which will result in a more efficient, transparent and accessible process.

The six draft NPS (fossil fuels, nuclear, renewables, transmission networks and oil and gas pipelines) are a crucial part of reforms that will remove unnecessary planning delays facing large energy proposals. They will be the basis of planning decisions made by the new Infrastructure Planning Commission from March 2010.

The Energy National Policy Statements will be subject to an extensive 15 week consultation between the 9th November and the 22nd February with the opportunity for the public to influence and comment on these draft NPS at a national and local level. Parliamentary scrutiny will follow the conclusion of this consultation.

•A few days before the announcement by Mr Milliband, RWE npower and E.ON UK had revealed that their nuclear joint-venture company – to be called Horizon Nuclear Power – will begin operation this month, November. The firms also said they expect to make a choice on reactor technology by early next year.

Horizon Nuclear Power was due to will begin operation from 16 November working from new headquarters near Gloucester. The 50:50 joint venture, created in January, aims to develop around 6GW of new nuclear capacity in the UK by 2025. It expects to invest up to £15bn and create some 11,000 jobs during construction phase. The first reactor is expected to come online around 2020.

Earlier this year the joint-venture secured development land at Wylfa on Anglesey and Oldbury-on-Severn in South Gloucestershire. It is now looking to establish offices close to these development sites.

Chief operating officer Alan Raymant says: “technical investigations [at the sites] are progressing well and we’ll shortly be engaging further with local organisations and the public on the detailed studies required to prepare consent applications.”

The company is also progressing its competitive tender process with Areva and Westinghouse for the selection of a reactor technology. The aim is to select a preferred supplier by early 2010, Raymant says.