Hutton outlines closure caveat

Business secretary John Hutton today outlined plans that will require operators of new nuclear power stations to set aside money for decommissioning and waste costs.

New nuclear power station operators will be required by law to set aside money for their eventual decommissioning and waste costs, business secretary John Hutton said today.

Draft guidance published today sets out how clauses in the Energy Bill requiring operators of new nuclear power stations to meet the full cost of decommissioning and their full share of waste management costs would work.

Companies would be required to demonstrate detailed and costed plans for decommissioning, waste management and disposal, before they begin construction of a nuclear power station. Companies will also be required to set money aside in a secure and independent fund and have additional security in place to supplement the fund. New plants will have to have an active fund from the first day of operation.

In ensuring these safeguards, the secretary of state will draw on advice from the Nuclear Liabilities Financing Assurance Board, which is being set up to provide independent advice on the suitability of decommissioning programmes.

‘It is in the national interest that the energy industry is able to invest in secure low carbon energy sources,’ said Hutton. ‘But it is also in the national interest that we take every step to ensure that the taxpayer is protected from the clean up costs down the line. The Energy Bill and the guidance published today make clear that companies are liable by law to meet their full costs.

‘Let me be clear – full means full. Funds will be sufficient, secure and independent, it will be a criminal offence not to comply with the approved arrangements and we are taking powers to guard against unforeseen shortfalls.’