Dutch body advises government to reconsider nuclear

Saturday, March 15, 2008

AMSTERDAM, March 13 (Reuters) - A Dutch advisory body is recommending the government keep the option of nuclear power open and review it along with all possible future sources of energy, according to a report released on Thursday.

The SER socio-economic advisory body said the cabinet should consider the expansion of nuclear energy in two years when it is due to evaluate its climate policies.

Bowing to pressure from environmentalists and the wider public, Dutch authorities have phased out all nuclear power stations except for the Borssele plant. The cabinet has said that no new plants would be built during its mandate.

Nuclear energy is coming back on the agenda in some European countries due to its carbon-free credentials. Britain has given the go-ahead to a new set of nuclear plants to help meet its climate change goals and to avoid overdependence on imports.

But critics say the toxic waste from nuclear power generation remains a problem for thousands of years and is not worth the risk.

The SER was due to report its recommendations last week but was held up due to divisions between its members, which represent employers, unions and environmental groups.

Friends of the Earth Netherlands and Dutch organisation Nature and Environment said the report showed there was still a lot of disagreement over nuclear power.

"While employers remain supporters of nuclear power, unions and environmental organisations still advise that nuclear is not sustainable or safe," the groups said on their Websites.

The Dutch government wants 9 percent of electricity consumption to come from green power sources by 2010 and 17 percent by 2020, to help fight climate change and make the country less dependent on fossil fuels like oil and gas.

The cabinet also wants renewable energy such as wind power to make up 20 percent of total energy consumption in 2020 compared with 2-3 percent in 2007.
(Reporting by Catherine Hornby; editing by James Jukwey)

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