Despite the recent barrage of dissenting voices, UK prime minister Tony Blair's cabinet has given its approval for nuclear energy to be part of the next generation energy mix.

The Independent newspaper has reported that the cabinet committee has approved the inclusion of nuclear power in the upcoming white paper on the future of energy generation in Britain, effectively giving its backing to the atomic option.

The approval is the first real sign that prime minister Tony Blair has allies for his apparent pro-nuclear attitude, having recently been heavily criticized by former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and Liberal Democrat leader Menzies Campbell. The cabinet approval also suggests that chancellor Gordon Brown is now also on board, as previous reports suggested he was hesitant over costs.

However, cabinet backing does not mean party backing and according to the Independent’s article, some Labour MPs intend to make the issue a key focus of the next leadership contest as they battle to defeat the nuclear plans.

To win support for nuclear power, the UK government is expected to offer up cost cutting measures, such as reusing established sites, while also stressing its support for renewable options as part of a balanced generation mix.