Britain offers up to 18 more nuclear power sites

LONDON, March 6 Thu Mar 6, 2008 7:10am EST

LONDON, March 6 (Reuters) - Britain said on Thursday it was making 18 more sites available for the next generation of nuclear power stations and gave operators four weeks to pick the ones they wanted.

"Interest in building new nuclear power stations in the UK is strong," Business Secretary John Hutton said in a statement on the Government News Network (www.gnn.gov.uk).

"Planning applications for new plants are likely to focus on areas in the vicinity of existing sites and so it's welcome that the NDA is making its significant land and other assets available to the market," he added.

Until now, the only sites that were clearly available were eight belonging to British Energy BGY.L.

The UK's Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA), which owns 18 sites including two with operational reactors, issued a notice asking potential developers to name the assets they were interested in by April 3.

Hutton told the Financial Times he expected the new generation of nuclear power stations to supply much more of the country's electricity than the 19 percent the existing ones deliver.

He also said the government may sell its stake stake in British Energy, worth over 2 billion pounds.

"We have to consider for the medium term what view we should take about holding on to these shares," he was quoted by the FT as saying.

British Energy shares rose 3.9 percent to 568-1/2 pence by 1210 GMT. (Reporting by Pete Harrison; Editing by Louise Ireland)

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