Italy says no to nuclear for second time

Hot on the heels of Germany’s decision to abandon nuclear power by 2022 comes an announcement from Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi that Italy will have to give up its plans to revive nuclear power, concentrating on renewable energy instead.

“We shall have to say good-bye to nuclear,” he said on Monday.

His words followed a referendum in which Italian voters said no to nuclear for the second time – the first time was in 1987 after the Chernobyl nuclear disaster.

“Italy, following the decision that the Italian people are taking in these hours, probably will have to bid farewell to the question of nuclear power plants”, Berlusconi said at a press conference. Previously he had planned to generate a quarter of Italy’s electricity with French-built nuclear plants.

Voter turn-out was 56.87% on the nuclear issue – one of four issues put to referendum in Italy. According to the Guardian, high turn-out came in the face of government efforts to do: “all it could to keep turnout low”, including appealing to the courts for the vote to be declared illegal. The other issues were on the privatisation of water supplies, water rates and legitimate impediment.

At the end of 2010, Italy had an installed wind power capacity of 5,797 MW, similar to that of the UK and France.

By Zoë Casey,