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Thousands march over Merkel's nuclear policy

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Thousands march over Merkel's nuclear policy
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Tens of thousands of protesters have taken to the streets of Berlin to say ‘no’ to Angela Merkel’s nuclear energy policy.

They are angry at plans to extend the lifespan of Germany’s nuclear power plants, reversing a decision to phase them out made under her predecessor, SPD Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder.

“All that is being destroyed right now,” said SPD opposition leader Sigmar Gabriel. “They are saying no, we will continue until 2040, maybe longer. They are thwarting renewable energies.”

Polls suggest some 60 per cent of Germans oppose the extension. But a leading figure from one of the parties in Merkel’s ruling coalition insists the protesters speak for a minority.

“Of course they are capable of mobilising the masses and organising large demonstrations when the weather is nice. That is normal,” said CSU parliamentary leader Hans-Peter Friedrich.
“They do no represent the majority of the population.”

Merkel’s government plans to extend the plants’ lifespans by an average of 12 years from the current shutdown date of 2021. Utility firms are set to pay a fuel tax and contribute to a fund to boost renewable energies under the deal.