Sunday, 27 May 2007

A NUCLEAR WINTER FALLS OVER ENERGY POLICY

Kent needs energy conservation and safe energy and jobs.

Despite overwhelming evidence of its huge costs(1), the Government is determined to build new nuclear power stations, according to its Energy White Paper released today. It’s consultation on energy policy is a sham when two days ago it announced changes in planning policy which would permit large-scale projects like nuclear power stations to avoid the normal planning process in Kent and elsewhere (2).

Steve Dawe comments: “Kent has enormous potential as a base for offshore wind farms and a location of new energy-efficient building, and all the employment this would bring. However, the current Government demonstrates for the second time this week that it opposes any rational environmental or economic constraint on its policies. New nuclear power is simply too expensive to contemplate. The Government claims that new nuclear power stations will not obtain public funds. But public money will inevitably be used for security of nuclear sites; waste storage and disposal; roads constructed to any new sites; storage of scarce uranium; government lobbying overseas to obtain what little uranium is left. A careful study has suggested no more than 50 years global supply of uranium remains available(3). However, this was conducted before the Chinese Government announced a massive 24-30 nuclear reactor programme.

“Since research shows expenditure on energy conservation is 7 times as effective per £ spent at reducing greenhouse gas emissions than new nuclear electric generation, resources need to devoted to reducing energy wastage. The Association for the Conservation of Energy has shown that a 50% reduction in energy use is possible in the UK. This would address the Government’s alleged ‘energy gap’ - whilst wind farms are built and UK homes and businesses are equipped with solar water heating, solar panels and wind turbines. The costly distraction of nuclear power undermines progress towards a carbon free economy of the type already being pursued by Iceland, Sweden and Austria.”

Notes:
1. Greenpeace The Economics of Nuclear Energy May 2007; David Toke and Simon Taylor The Alternative Energy Report Green Party, February 2006; Paul Mobbs Energy Beyond Oil (2005); New Economics Foundation Mirage and oasis: energy choices in an age of global warming: the trouble with nuclear power and the potential of renewable energy (June 2005); Jason Nisse True price of UK’s nuclear legacy: £160bn Independent on Sunday, 2nd April 2006.
2. Planning for a sustainable future Department of Communities and Local Government, 21st May 2007.
3. Mobbs, 2005 see note 1.

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