Budget 2023: Gov't Follows EU in Declaring Nuclear 'Sustainable'

'We will need another critical source of cheap and reliable energy. That is nuclear.'

Ollie Smith 15 March, 2023 | 2:46PM
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The government has followed the European Union (EU) in declaring the use of nuclear power environmentally sustainable.

Speaking at the Budget today, chancellor Jeremy Hunt said that nuclear would be essential in reaching the UK government’s own net-zero carbon emissions targets.

"Because the wind doesn’t always blow and the sun doesn’t always shine, we will need another critical source of cheap and reliable energy," he claimed. "That is nuclear."

"To encourage the private sector investment into our nuclear programme, I today confirm that subject to consultation nuclear power will be classed as 'environmentally sustainable' in our green taxonomy, giving it access to the same investment incentives as renewable energy."

In the Autumn Statement, Hunt had announced government backing for the Sizewell C nuclear plant, which would receive £700 million in central government funding. But today he also rebranded this project with the moniker "Great British Nuclear", alongside tendering contracts for small modular nuclear reactors, a process to be completed by the end of the year.

This echoes a declaration made by the EU in July last year, when the bloc ratified a European Commission proposal to define nuclear energy and natural gas as "green" alternatives to coal-fired power stations.

At the time, the proposal was controversial. Although 328 members voted against the motion, and the remaining 278 voted in favour, the result was not enough to provide an overall parliamentary majority against the measure.

Responding to Hunt’s announcement, Green party spokesperson for the economy and finance, Molly Scott-Cato said investment was needed in sectors that didn’t damage the environment.

"Investment in the green economy is urgently needed," she said.

"The Green party supports a tax deduction to encourage investment but only for green businesses. It’s not just about size, we need positive green activity, not growth at any price or in damaging sectors."

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Ollie Smith

Ollie Smith  is editor of Morningstar UK

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