25 Mar 2010

Cameron: nukes and lobbying

In a moment towards the end of this blog the campaign to get Cameron to tackle lobbying but first the Tories energy policy and new nukes - their policy launched in July 2006 had a well-reasoned argument explaining why nuclear power must be a "last resort" in particular highlighting the lack of solution on nuke waste. In the same year he even described Labour's enthusiasm for nuclear power as "irresponsible".

As Lib Dem Simon Hughes points out in The Guardian this week: "Four years on, we're no closer to finding out how to deal with highly toxic nuclear waste and the Tory leader's point stands as strong as ever. But unfortunately, the Tories no longer seem to care. Indeed, the Tories' new green paper on energy security shows remarkable dexterity in rewriting history, now criticising the Labour government for dragging its feet before finally coming round to support new nuclear."

This has to be worrying to even die-hard Tories? It seems evermore clear their flirt with environmental causes was about trying to improve their image and nothing to do with really understanding the issues. Even their opposition to Heathrow is not about cutting air travel but about expanding regional airports instead. Thank goodness that our District Council Tories seem a little more sensible....

Photo from local campaign group - see here

The Committee on Radioactive Waste Management, CoRWM has also stated that Britain may not find a suitable place for a planned £12bn hole to bury radioactive waste from new nuclear power stations - they note "some plans exist" to deal with the UK's high-level waste, but whether they are effective is "a matter of judgment". It raises fears that the Government may try to impose a giant waste storage facility on a hostile community, if no UK region agrees to take on the waste. Perhaps such a facility could go at Oldbury on the flood plain area next to those vast cooling towers?

It was good to get reports at the weekend that this week the Energy and Climate Change (ECC) Committee reiterate this point and said that the Government have failed to consider the issue of radioactive waste. The Committee also recommended that the Government looks again at its analysis, as "the current assertion of the need for new conventional generating capacity reduces the likelihood that the renewables target will be met".

Also this month a group of 90 high-ranking academics, politicians and technical experts called for an independent inquiry into a new generation of nukes - see Guardian report here.

Amazingly the papers continue to cover stories of the nuclear industries incompetence - see here how even after all these years their evacuation plans have deep flaws.

Plan to pull down wind farm for new nuke!

Amazingly I have received emails from acampaign group that there is a proposal to plant a new power station at Kirksanton in Cumbria on the site of the Haverigg wind farm! The Kirksanton Action Group of local residents have been joined by an impressive list of supportive authorities and organisations including National Trust, Friends of Lake District and Lake District National Park Authority, the local councils, Triodos Renewables (who are joint owners of the windfarm) and a lot more, not to mention the usual suspects like FoE, Greenpeace, Green Party, RSPB. See their website www.savekirksanton.org.uk for more info and an action to email Robin Clark.

Jonathon Porritt in Taunton

Porritt was in Stroud earlier this month to launch our Green party Parliamentary candidate, Martin Whiteside - see here - he dismissed nuclear then but at the meeting in Taunton he set out much more of the case against new nukes. Here is some of the report from the evening:

“It would be totally wrong to impose on future generations a problem for which we have no solution. We don’t know how to deal with nuclear waste. There is no clear strategy. We are just hoping that the next generation can sort it out...I have huge concerns about the cost of nuclear power.

Don’t believe a single word that comes out of the industry. This is an industry that has obscured, concealed, lied and deviated from the truth from the 1950s onwards."
He gave the example of the £76 billion it now emerged it would cost to decommission existing nuclear facilities, let alone any new ones. This money would have to come directly from the taxpayer. The economics of nuclear power were so unreliable, he added, that it was possible that Hinkley C would never be built because investors would have nothing to do with it. He added: “Even if we replaced all our existing fleet of reactors, as the government wants, we would still only cut about 4% of our 1990 level of carbon dioxide emissions. The idea that we can wheel in nuclear power to deal with our low carbon imperative is a flawed argument. No new nuclear plant was likely to be up and running before the middle of the next decade which would be too little too late."

Instead, Porritt painted a picture in which Britain’s future energy needs would be met by access to endless and clean sustainable energy. “I am absolutely persuaded that this is deliverable,” he said. His prescription included four elements – a major campaign on energy efficiency, massive investment in renewable power, more use of combined heat and power generation and, in a transition period, the development of cleaner fossil fuels.
On energy efficiency he said that the UK could reduce energy consumption by 30 to 40% over the next two decades by measures like improving the efficiency of the existing housing stock. “The government just hasn’t done enough,” he said. “The fact that you don’t hear politicians talking about this is a nightmare.”

See Dr Lawson's report on the recent Porritt talk in Taunton here.

Sign petition against plans for Hinkley C - the planned first new nuke

Sign here: www.stophinkley.org/PETITION.htm

Sale of BE to EDF report

This is just out and says more than just about the sale - it also says lots on the potential longer term implications e.g. the risks of EDF not building nukes (because no guarantee was sought by DECC) and / or subsidy for new build. It also has implications for the non-EDF sites which are dependent on EDF getting planning permission etc for its nukes. The report is also critical of the Shareholder Executive (a Govt dept which oversees bodies which the taxpayer has a financial interest in) and DECC itself . Download here.

Cameron and the lobbyists

Meanwhile we have to wonder about why Cameron has changed his mind - could it be those lobbyists? Channel 4 revealed this week yet another case of politicians trying to profit inappropriately from their work as MPs. This time it was by offering to work as lobbyists, boasting of how they shift government policy for corporate clients. Former Labour Minister Stephen Byers described himself as a "cab for hire".

38 degrees are campaigning for new transparency rules to open up the murky world of lobbying. We need details of who's lobbying whom, and about what, to be made public by law. They write:

Thanks to this latest scandal, the Labour Party has finally promised to introduce new rules if they win the election. The Liberal Democrats have held this position for some time. But so far David Cameron has stuck to his old position that new rules aren't needed and that "self-regulation" is enough. We need to persuade David Cameron to accept the need for new rules for lobbying transparency. Click here to sign our petition to David Cameron, and help build the pressure: www.38degrees.org.uk/cameron-support-transparency/

David Cameron is keen to use scandals like this to argue that it's time for a change of government. If enough of us sign a petition demanding he promises new rules, he'll realise he needs to do more than just criticise his Labour opponents if he wants to look convincing. Together we can persuade the Conservatives to promise a new law to help clean up the lobbying industry, for good.
Judging by this week's revelations, David Cameron has been right to warn of the problem of outgoing Labour ministers lining up future jobs as lobbyists. But we know that this isn't the whole problem - right now, 38 Degrees members in many areas of the country are challenging Conservative candidates to come clean about their recent lobbying jobs.

Lastly can't not mention Cameron's gaff on gay equality yesterday - can be seen here.
Why did he not condemn homophobic law in Lithuania? Not good enough.

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