Peter Hain has warned of his concerns about a new generation of nuclear power stations, insisting that it would be "significantly preferable" to move toward renewable power.

He became the first cabinet opponent of nuclear power to break ranks in public, arguing that new nuclear power stations would have "vast" implications for security and unknown costs. His comments contradict Tony Blair, who signalled his support for nuclear energy at the Labour Party conference, singling out nuclear power as an alternative to Britain's reliance on "unstable" regimes for its energy supplies.

Mr Hain makes his views clear in an article for the Socialist Environment Resources Association (Sera), a green group affiliated to the Labour Party which boasts support from nearly 60 MPs.

The article for the association's magazine New Ground argues the nuclear energy "must be on the table" but expresses deep concerns about security and costs. He writes that renewable energy "is significantly preferable to the widely advocated 'nuclear option'. While everything must be on the table during the review, serious concerns must remain about nuclear: the financial costs are impossible to estimate, security implications are vast, its label as 'clean' is unwarranted as uranium enrichment is carbon-emitting and we rely on other nations for its supply."

"Our failure to take the tough decisions on alternative sources of energy in the past has left us now facing this option. If we are faced with no choice but to go down this route, then we must at the same time make a similar commitment to renewables that ensures future generations do not face the same dilemma."