PLANS to build a second nuclear power plant in the North-East have met opposition from environmentalists.

Hartlepool has been chosen as a likely location for a new plant in British Energy's long-term plans for sustainable fuel.

However, both the Lib Dems and environmentalists said the town already had one nuclear power plant and should not have to accept another.

Lib Dem MEP Fiona Hall warned against the plans to site one of eight new power plants in Hartlepool.

The North-East MEP, who is also the energy spokeswoman in Europe for the Lib Dems, said: "While this is not unexpected it is, nevertheless, disappointing.

"The North-East is well positioned to lead the country on renewables and energy efficiency, and it does not need the inflexible option of nuclear in order to deliver its energy commitments for the future.

"This announcement comes a day after the launch of a new Energy Research Institute here in the North-East to examine ways of providing energy for the future. Given that there is no agreed solution to the problem of disposal of tonnes of radioactive waste, nuclear power remains an irresponsible option for any Government."

Iris Ryder, of the Friends of Hartlepool, criticised the level of public consultation that had taken place.

She said: "Because we have already got a nuclear power station here, we should be in line for a veto.

"We should have had our fair share of this ghastly industry. We did not have any choice when we got the first one, but we should be given more of a say this time."

On Tuesday, British Energy applied to the National Grid for grid connection to four new sites in Sizewell, Hinkley, Dungeness and Bradwell, which are all in the South of England. It is hoped that they will be in operation by 2016.

However, Hartlepool has been named in a second phase of new sites, along with Heysham, Kent, Hunterston and Torness, which are both in Scotland, which will come later.

British Energy has pledged to maintain investment in its current nuclear sites.

The Government is expected to decide on the future of nuclear power early next year. If the decision is positive, a strategic assessment of sites is expected next year.

In the meantime, British Energy has commissioned studies of potential sites.

British Energy chief executive officer Bill Coley said: "Our existing sites all have potential for replacement nuclear and, indeed, we have suitable land at all locations. But it is about much more than land. We are building the foundations for replacement nuclear by continuing and strengthening our excellent relationships and dialogue with local communities."