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Dublin: 8 °C Saturday 19 April, 2014

Germany to ditch nuclear power by 2022

The government has made the decision following safety concerns in light of the Japanese nuclear disaster in March. It is a reversal of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s previously pro-nuclear stance.

Merkel's government will now look at alternative energy sources - such as wind power.
Merkel's government will now look at alternative energy sources - such as wind power.
Image: Guido Bergmann/AP/Press Association Images

GERMANY WILL SHUTDOWN all nuclear power plants by 2022, the country’s environment minister announced this morning.

Norbert Roettgen says that Chancellor Angela Merkel’s coalition government has agreed to shut down all of the country’s nuclear power plants in the next ten years or so.

Just 12 days after the Japanese Fukushima nuclear disaster in March it was reported that Germany was to undertake a full safety review of its plants and reconsider its previous decision to extend their life in light of safety concerns.

Chancellor Merkel said at the time that the Japanese “catastrophe of apocalyptic dimensions” had irreversibly marked the start of a new era.

There were anti-nuclear protests in Germany in the aftermath of the disaster, BBC News reports.

Roettgen said that the seven oldest reactors taken off the grid pending safety inspections following the Japanese disaster will remain offline permanently.

He added that all but the three newest reactors will be shut down by 2021, and the remainder a year later.

Roettgen announced the agreement early on Monday morning after hour-long negotiations between the governing parties.

In 2010, Merkel had pushed through laws to extend the lifespan of the country’s 17 reactors with the last one scheduled to go offline in 2036, but she completely reversed her policy in the wake of Japan’s nuclear disaster.

Writing in today’s Irish Times, Derek Scally says that backbenchers in Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU) party have accused the Chancellor of abandoning the party’s core principles.

Scally writes that criticism from backbenchers on the party’s u-turn on its pro-nuclear policy, as well ending compulsory military service, is the first sign of dissent within the CDU against Merkel.

- additional reporting from AP

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