The business secretary, John Hutton, said new stations must be built to ensure future security of supply and help produce a balanced energy mix.
Environmentalists, however, expressed dismay at the decision. "The decision to encourage the construction of new nuclear stations in the UK is both irrational and unfortunate," said Friends of the Earth director, Tony Juniper.
"When we need leadership toward a green and sustainable economy we are being taken back to a failed technology that has cost us billions of pounds and bequeathed to future generations a legacy of lethal radioactive waste that will remain deadly for tens of thousands of years".
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