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Finland's parliament approves two new nuclear reactors

image captionFinland's fifth nuclear reactor is expected to be ready by 2013

Finland's parliament has approved the construction of two nuclear power stations.

The aim of the new reactors is to make Finland self-sufficient in electricity production by 2020.

Approval had been expected as the coalition parties hold a clear majority in the 200-member house.

However, the bill was opposed by Green League and Left Alliance MPs.

The government had given preliminary permission for the construction of the reactors to two utility groups but no details were confirmed.

Several hundred demonstrators gathered outside the parliament and a number of environmental activists briefly protested inside parliament before they were led out.

"This is one of the most important decisions my government is going to make, because it really improves Finland's competitiveness and will create new jobs, and thus also increase the economic growth," Mari Kiviniemi, head of the country's centre-right government told AFP news agency.

Meanwhile Labour Minister Anni Sinnemaeki of the Green League said she was not surprised but "very disappointed" by the vote.

Finland's energy ambitions

Finland has four nuclear reactors producing about 30% of the country's electricity, with a fifth expected to be functional by 2013.

Bioenergy is also a crucial element in the country's energy sector, supplying almost 20% of total primary energy consumption.

The National Action Plan for Renewable Energy Sources (RES) has aimed at a 30% increase in the use of bioenergy by 2010, according to Finland's Renewable Energy Policy Review in 2009.

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