Nuclear giant British Energy to retain involvement in wind

Beleaguered nuclear giant British Energy claims it intends to retain its involvement in wind energy, despite its financial difficulties. The company, which is only avoiding insolvency thanks to a £650 million government bail out, is a development partner in two wind projects: a proposal for a 600-1000 MW development of 300 turbines on Lewis in the Western Isles of Scotland; and an offshore wind farm of 30 turbines in the North Sea off England's east coast. British Energy has been lobbying government to exempt nuclear-generated electricity from the Climate Change Levy (CCL) -- a tax on the business use of energy -- which would save the company between £80 million and £100 million a year. Trade and Industry Secretary Patricia Hewitt, however, says she "has no plans" to change CCL rules, reports electronic news service Environment Daily. The levy is not a carbon tax, she says, adding that exempting nuclear would reduce incentives on business to use electricity efficiently. Meantime, the Belgian government has complained to the EC about the UK government's £650 million loan to British Energy -- and Greenpeace and renewable energy supplier Ecotricity have begun legal action to stop the loan, saying it breaches EU law governing state aid to industry.