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German MPs vote to extend use of nuclear power

German MPs vote to extend use of nuclear power
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Germany’s lower house of parliament voted on Thursday to back Chancellor Angela Merkel’s plan to prolong the country’s use of nuclear power.

Atomic plants earmarked for closure in 2022 will be allowed to stay open for an extra twelve years on average.

The plans have sparked mass protests in recent months.

Cem Özdemir, the co-leader of the Green Party, said Merkel’s centre-right coalition “is blocking the use of renewable energy.”

“It is the future and will help the German economy. That is why we are against this,” he said.

The four operators of Germany’s 17 nuclear power plants will also pay more tax on their profits to fund investment in renewable energy.

On the floor of the Bundestag, Economy Minister Rainer Bruederle accused opponents of running out of steam.

“The opposition know how to make a lot of hot air but that won’t spin a single wind turbine. Our energy policy is different,” Bruederle said.

The new bill unpicks a law passed under former Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder to end a four-decade-long association with nuclear power.

Legal opinion is spilt as to whether Merkel can bypass Germany’s upper-house, the Bundesrat, where her centre-right Christian Democrats no longer hold a majority.