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The 1986 Chernobyl nuclear accident played an important part in nuclear energy falling out of public favour but electricity privatisation was also a major cause.

The privatisation of Britain's energy industry

No new nuclear power stations have been ordered since the privatisation of the Central Electricity Generating Board in 1990.

The privatisation of Britain's energy industry in the 1980s and 1990s resulted in the nuclear sector being placed on a commercial footing for the first time. Making the switch from government funding to private capital was not easy, exposing the nuclear industry to the full cost-control discipline of the private sector. British utilities slimmed down their workforce considerably to cut overhead costs and boost profitability.

Much of Britain's nuclear research and development infrastructure was gradually wound-down. In the early 1990s the financial markets became increasingly concerned about taking on responsibility for the nuclear decommissioning costs of power stations, forcing the government to abandon the privatisation of Britain's Generation I Magnox nuclear fleet in 1995.

Britain's entire fleet of seven Generation II AGR nuclear stations and one brand new £2.8 billion PWR nuclear station was floated on the stockmarket in 1996 for just £2.1 billion.


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