Department of Energy and Climate Change

Proposals published today on liabilities for nuclear operators

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Seven-fold increase in liability for nuclear sites announced

Nuclear operators will be expected to take on liability of €1.2 billion for each of their sites, an increase on the current level of £140 million, under proposals outlined by Chris Huhne today.

Chris Huhne, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change said:

“The coalition is clear on new nuclear: it has a role to play as part of a diverse energy mix in meeting the UK’s future needs, but it will not receive any public subsidy.

“Nuclear power is low carbon, secure and there is clearly an appetite from the private sector to build.

“The government is determined to provide certainty to low carbon investors, but there will be no public subsidy for nuclear power which is a mature technology. We are taking steps to reduce any risk of the taxpayer having to pick up the tab for new nuclear further down the track. We’ve already set out how operators will be required to put aside money from day one for their eventual clean up and waste storage, and now we’re increasing substantially the liability to be taken on by operators.”

The proposal to require operators to take on liability of €1.2 billion for each of their sites follows the changes to the Paris and Brussels Conventions on nuclear third party liability and is a seven-fold increase on the current level of £140 million. It is also more than the €700m minimum required under the revised Conventions.

There will also be an increase in the categories of damage for which operators are liable to include damage related to the environment. The geographical scope of those eligible to claim compensation will be widened, and any liabilities will be channelled automatically to the nuclear operator.

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