Key figure in nuclear industry says UK should not rely on foreign firms

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A key figure in the nuclear energy business has questioned the Government's handling of the power source.

Urenco chief executive, Helmut Engelbrecht, was critical of the fact much of the country's nuclear industry now seemed to be becoming reliant on foreign companies.

The German head of the enriched-uranium supplier, said: "It's just unfortunate that countries who have had the best experience, like the UK, are relying on foreign technology.

"I find that a pity. OK, in my country they have made a political decision not to pursue it. But Britain has had this good track record of safe and reliable operation. Why are they just giving in to American or French solutions instead of doing their own thing?"

Mr Engelbrecht was talking in particular about EDF Energy's plans for a £14bn nuclear power plant at Hinkley Point, Somerset. Although the project does seem to be going ahead, it has been besieged by a number of problems over the last year.

These problems included the prospect of the firm pulling out of the scheme due to funding in its native France, British Gas owner, Centrica, pulling out of a partnership on the scheme and, more recently, a dispute with the Government over the price it would receive for the power it generated from the Hinkley Point site - also called the 'strike price'.

Mr Engelbrecht was confident a compromise on the deal would be reached however.

He added: "It's essential infrastructure to keep the UK electricity supply going.

"They have to replace it. There is nothing else."

Despite the firm not quite seeing eye to eye in its deal with the Government over energy prices generated from the new nuclear power plant however, EDF Energy is at least working alongside it to provide energy efficiency measures including new boilers and wall insulation as part of its Green Deal initiative.

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