According to reports, the arguments within government have already begun following UK prime minister Tony Blair's comments on May 16 that new nuclear plants will be a key tenet of future energy policy.

The Guardian newspaper reports that cabinet opinion on the announcement is divided, with several ministers apparently concerned that the cost of the new infrastructure is likely to be too high.

The newspaper reports that earlier estimates on the cost of the new plants provided by the Treasury were eye wateringly high, and it is this – rather than questions of safety – which is the major stumbling block.

Chancellor Gordon Brown is likely to want considerable control over how much the government commits to any new nuclear development, and his widely-reported schism with Mr Blair could yet have a bearing on how far the government is prepared to involve itself in the provision of the new generating fleet.

While the Department of Trade and Industry has reportedly stated that there will be no public subsidy for private sector players to catalyze the construction of new reactors, senior ministers are apparently concerned that this will lead to the market being manipulated in other ways, possibly to the detriment of renewable options, the Guardian says.