The Minister for the Environment has said the Government is opposed to the construction of any new nuclear power facility at the controversial Sellafield site in Cumbria.

Dick Roche was speaking in London after talks with Britain's Trade Secretary, Alastair Darling, who is the minister with responsibility for Sellafield.

Later this year the Blair administration is expected to approve the construction of a new generation of nuclear power stations along Britain's west coast.

Mr Roche said that while the selection of sites was a matter for the British government, it would be better if all operations at Sellafield were to cease at the earliest possible date and the lengthy work of decommissioning be undertaken.  

The minister also said he had been reassured by Mr Darling today that Sellafield's controversial Thermal Oxide Reprocessing Plant, known as THORP, would close as scheduled in 2010 and that no new contracts would be accepted which could extend the life of the plant.

Sellafield's operators were fined almost €750,000 last year after a leak was discovered at the facility.

At today's talks the British government also repeated an undertaking - first given by Northern Secretary Peter Hain - that no nuclear power stations would be constructed in Northern Ireland.