Fledgling green industries suffer as a leaked government document reveals a move to rebrand nuclear power as a renewable form of energy.

The UK government wants nuclear power to be given parity with renewables in Europe, in a move that would significantly boost atomic energy in Britain but downgrade investment in renewable generation, according to a leaked document seen by the Guardian newspaper.

The move would in effect remove the most important prop from the beleaguered renewable energy sector – the Europe-wide targets stipulating that a proportion of each member state’s energy must come from renewable sources.

But the document calls for “some type of target for 2030”, which a government adviser told the Guardian is likely to be a target for low-carbon energy. This would include nuclear alongside renewables and so far unproven technology for capturing and storing carbon dioxide underground.

The issue of giving nuclear parity with renewables is likely to be controversial for the energy secretary, Ed Davey, as the Liberal Democrat party’s official position is “no to nuclear”.

Industry experts and green groups said that nuclear power and the fledgling renewables industry would not compete on a level playing field, because nuclear technology has benefited from more than six decades of public subsidy, while renewable power has had its support slashed.

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