Parliament has given its definitive backing to plans for Italy to resume nuclear power production 22 years after Italians voted in a referendum to abolish it.

Under the terms of the economic development bill passed by the senate, or upper house of parliament, on 9 July the government now has six months to identify appropriate sites for the construction of nuclear power stations as well as to draw up plans for compensating the affected populations and storing and disposing of nuclear waste.

The new law does not specify how many power stations are to be built although there are already plans for four under the terms of a cooperation agreement signed by Italian electricity utility ENEL and French power giant EDF last February. The government hopes to start building the first power station before the end of the current legislature (2013) and to begin production by 2020. It is not clear what will become of the country