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Scottish and Southern Energy abandons nuclear plans for wind

Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) has confirmed it will withdraw from plans to develop nuclear power, deciding that wind farms provide a better investment.

The utility company will sell its 25pc stake in the NuGen consortium to its partners GDF Suez and Iberdrola. NuGen is only at the very preliminary stages of an investment in nuclear, having bought an option to purchase land near Sellafield for £19.5m two years ago. It would not have a fully completed power station for at least a decade.

SSE is still in favour of nuclear power as part of the UK’s mix of generation, but it concluded that the process would consume too much management time.

Alistair Phillips-Davies, generation and supply director, said “our core investment in generation should be in renewable energy”.

He added: “We have always adopted a cautious approach to the financial and other issues associated with nuclear power development. NuGen will have to make a multi-billion pound investment decision around 2015, but even getting to the point of that decision will absorb, from now on, significant financial and management resources. We have concluded that, for the time being, our resources are better deployed on business activities and technologies where we have the greatest knowledge and experience.”

However, he left the door open for a future investment by saying SSE “may become involved again at a future date, either as an investor or as a purchaser of electricity”.

Green groups welcomed SSE’s decision to abandon nuclear in favour of wind, but Friends of the Earth spokesman Paul Steedman pointed out “they have a long way to go – 88pc of the power they supplied last year came from coal and gas”.