Britain is on track to have new nuclear power stations up and running within eight years, Energy and Climate Change Secretary Chris Huhne has insisted.
Mr Huhne said a number of potential sites for the stations had been identified - generally close to existing nuclear energy installations - and that power should be on stream by 2018.
He reiterated that the Government would not subsidise the new nuclear power stations but said investors had indicated they were ready to press ahead thanks to rising gas, oil and carbon prices.
“We are on course to make sure that the first new nuclear power station opens on time in 2018,” Mr Huhne told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme.
“There are a number of sites that have been identified around the country and those are generally on sites where we have previously had, for example, nuclear power stations and where the local people are very keen that there should be new nuclear build.
“What we have to do - we have eight years now before I hope that the first one will come making a contribution to the grid - and we have to get through all of the prior arrangements, like, for example, the national planning statements, like making sure that investors have got their applications formally in and approved, and then of course building can commence.”
Mr Huhne said it was “clear” that MPs would vote in favour of new nuclear power stations providing there was no public subsidy involved.
Defending the position, he said: “I don’t think you can determine whether a government is serious about energy policy merely in terms of whether it is prepared to write very large cheques.
“It has always been clear that our next generation of electricity power stations are going to be built by private investors with a framework put in place.”
That framework included a “very clear commitment” for a carbon price floor, Mr Huhne said, as part of an incentives system to encourage investment.