Energy secretary Chris Huhne has confirmed that no public money will be put into a new generation of nuclear power plants.
Labour plans to fast-track nuclear building proposals through an Infrastructure Planning Commission have also been abandoned leading to fears that any new schemes will get bogged down by a series of objections.
But contractors see the biggest hurdle as a blanket ban on public funding which the Liberal Democrats have insisted on in return for withdrawing their official opposition to Conservative nuclear building plans.
One nuclear specialist told the Enquirer: “This was touted as a huge growth market and a lot of money has been spent attracting skilled people in anticipation of increased investment.
“But things have gone horribly quiet now as the Lib Dems and Tories both have vastly different views on nuclear.
“The agreement is a hotch-potch which could end up suiting no-one.
“The choice may one day come down to investing some public cash in nuclear plants or the lights might go out in this country.
“The government is quite happy to subsidise things like wind farms while starving nuclear technology which actually works.”
Companies like Centrica and E.On believe they can fund nuclear plants without public cash but are also calling for urgent meetings with the energy secretary to discuss affordability issues.