Austrian PM in renewed protest against British nuclear

The inclusion of significant nuclear power projects by the UK in an ambitious European Union investment plan has drawn the ire of the Austrian government.

New EU Commission president Jean Claude Juncker’s 2015 Work Programme is the latest document involving UK nuclear strategy to bring criticism from Vienna, who had previously considered launching legal action to stop a subsidy scheme aimed at supporting the sector in Britain.

On Thursday, the Austrian leader Werner Faymann protested the UK nuclear power sector’s inclusion within its list of infrastructure eligible for funding under the proposed €315bn plan.

The UK has listed several nuclear-related projects within the Juncker plan, a list of 2,000 projects drawn from across all member states, which will be considered for funding.

“We see the need for Austria to point out that our contributions will not feed the demands of the nuclear energy industry,” Austrian environment minister Andràƒ¤ Rupprechter told journalists in Brussels on Wednesday according to a report by the Austrian Press Agency.
Werner Faymann
Rupprechter acknowledged that Austria was not “in a majority” position on nuclear power, but signalled that Germany, Luxemburg and Sweden were also sceptical on the issue.

“We have nothing against improving the safety of existing power stations,” Rupprechter said, adding: “However demands for new builds or completion of construction projects will meet with resistance.”

The Commissioner for Regional Policy, Austrian Johannes Hahn, spoke out against the Hinkley Point deal, when the commission itself had approved it to go ahead in October.

Austria, itself fell foul of both the European Commission and the European Court of Justice this week, when its Green Electricity Act was found to be in breach of European law, as it was deemed that the legislation would unfairly protect energy intensive industries from their obligations in reducing emissions, while smaller operators would still have had to pay.

Vienna will be particularly aggrieved at the ruling as neighbouring Germany earlier this year won EU and court backing for its green energy scheme to the relief of big business.

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