Soon after 2020, Britain will have lost around 20% of its generating capacity as older nuclear plants reach the end of their lives. In addition, coal plants accounting for 10% of generation would also have been retired. “Some of this will be replaced by renewables but not all of it can,” said Blair, whose speech at the Confederation of British Industry’s AGM also contained warnings about possible natural gas shortages as well as the dangers of over-reliance on any fuel.

Blair announced the establishment of a review of the UK’s progress against the medium- and long-term goals set out in the 2003 energy white paper (such as a 20% reduction in carbon emissions by 2020). Energy minister Malcolm Wicks will head the review, and produce a policy statement in the early summer of 2006. “It will include specifically the issue of whether we facilitate the development of a new generation of nuclear power stations.”