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Government to rip up rulebook and subsidise new nuclear plants via The Independent

Academics claim ministers are set to break promise not to write blank cheques in bid to reassure foreign investors

The Government is planning to write a “blank cheque” to the nuclear industry by underwriting the cost of new power stations, leading energy academics have claimed in a letter to The Independent.

Under a major policy U-turn being considered by ministers, the taxpayer would be left to cover the cost of budget over-runs or building delays at new nuclear plants. Costly setbacks are almost inevitable with such complex construction projects.

The proposals, which would break a long-standing Government promise never to subsidise the nuclear industry, are intended to reassure multi-national energy firms into investing in a new fleet of nuclear plants in Britain.

EDF Energy’s plans for a plant at Hinkley Point in Somerset are considered the most advanced.

Last night environmentalists accused the Government of plotting to squander public money to protect the profits of energy giants.

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Opponents of nuclear power argue that over many decades it has benefited from government subsidies at the expense of public investment in renewable energy.

Former Energy Minister Chris Hulme pointed out before he stepped down from his post in February that past government subsidies to the nuclear industry meant that electricity customers today are paying for nuclear-generated electricity consumed in the 1970s.

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