European nuclear bosses go on the offensive

European Nuclear Council insists atomic energy is sustainable answer to global warming

European power firms with nuclear businesses have issued an impassioned defence of the technology ahead of next month's international talks on finalising the Kyoto climate protocol. Following a weekend meeting of utility chief executives hosted by UK firm British Energy, the European Nuclear Council said it was "time to drive home some straight, simple messages about nuclear energy".

"Climate change is a priority and nuclear must be part of the answer," the nuclear chiefs' club said in a statement drafted by British Energy chief Peter Hollins. Even countries without their own nuclear plants such as Austria, Italy and Denmark "meet their commitments partly through importing nuclear power".

The council rejected claims that the nuclear industry was outdated. "This is a sustainable, sensible and supportable alternative to burning our environmental boats. It's not a threat from the past - it's the way forward," it said. It also claimed that the industry already covered its external costs, unlike fossil fuel burning. "It's time our tax systems recognised the real value" of this energy source, the council said.

Follow Up:
British Energy, tel: +44 131 527 2490, and press release.

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