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Under draft rules, nuclear power projects in China will need local support

Nuclear developers on mainland China must seek the consent of local stakeholders before going ahead with new projects, according to draft rules published by the country’s cabinet on Monday.

Developers will need to assess the impact a nuclear project will have on social stability and solicit public opinion through hearings or announcements, the Legislative Affairs Office of the State Council said.

The mainland is in the middle of a rapid nuclear reactor building programme and aims to have 58 gigawatts (GW) of capacity in full commercial operation by the end of 2020, up from 30.7 GW at the end of July.

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But despite a strong safety record at existing plants, the government has struggled to convince the public about the safety of nuclear power.

Protests in the eastern coastal city of Lianyungang last month led to the cancellation of a proposed US$15 billion nuclear waste processing plant.

“Japan’s Fukushima accident once again created doubt about the safety of nuclear power among the public, and also caused feelings of fear and opposition to occur from time to time,” the Legislative Affairs Office said in a statement.

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It said the new draft rules would improve information disclosure and allow the public to participate more actively in the construction and supervision of nuclear projects. The Legislative Affairs Office has made the draft guidelines available to the public and will accept suggestions until October 19, it said in a notice posted on its website.