Environmental groups and renewable energy firms in the West Midlands reacted with anger and disappointment that the UK will see a new generation of nuclear power.

West Midlands Friends of the Earth campaigner Chris Crean labelled the decision as "irrational", claiming the economics of nuclear did not add up and that renewables and energy efficiency could meet UK needs more quickly and sustainably.

He said: "It is unfortunate because the nuclear option will limit our ability to lead in the exciting and fast growing new markets for modern energy sources. And that is bad news for the UK economy and jobs.

"There are also massive concerns with what we do with the waste. The UK is currently facing a £70 billion - and rising - bill dealing with the waste from our existing nuclear power stations. Yet the Government is embarking on a scheme that will increase that cost and leave a difficult waste legacy for future generations."

Bob Dorman, project manager of Birmingham-based WindSupply which supports UK firms entering the the renewables industry, agreed the UK would be better focusing on the renewables market, rather than being tied up with processing nuclear waste.

He said: "Does UK and West Midlands business want to aim at a share of a global market for wind farm and turbine components that will be more than £2.5 billion by 2012 and increasing, or a share of 10 nuclear power stations, plus their fall out?"

But Mark Wilson, corporate affairs manager for Solihull-based Wind Prospect, which designs, constructs and operates wind turbines, said the Government announcement on nuclear obscured the real barrier to wind farm development - UK planning law.

"Wind Prospect does not believe the Government's decision will make any difference to the development of wind farms, because the real issue for the industry is planning."