20 Oct 2010

Severn Barrage ditched but nukes get go-ahead

The Government have issued a 300 page document as a re-run of the earlier Nuclear Policy Statement (NPS) but little has changed with Chris Huhne supporting a list of sites including Oldbury for new nuclear build. The paper had already been released due to a blunder so contained no surprises. As forecast on this blog here the barrage has been dropped.

Photos: River Severn

Local Green party Councillor Martin Whiteside has sent a quote to press saying: "I welcome the dropping of the Severn barrage proposals as it would have done untold damage to an important and unique ecosystem. However it is not good enough for the coalition Government just to drop the proposals and replace the barrage with nuclear power stations. As Greens we would like to see more energy generated from the tides, but there are more efficient and less environmentally intrusive emerging technologies than an old fashioned barrage. We would like to see these new technologies supported by the Government, making Britain a leader in the technology of the future – it would be good for business, good for jobs and good for the environment. In contrast, nuclear power stations will use imported fuel, be controlled by foreign companies and create less jobs than genuine renewables and energy saving. This is a short-term fix for political reasons that will cost us more in the long term - it is basically bad economics."

The Government's document highlighted the worrying prospect of transporting spent fuel while it is still very radioactive to a central storage site. This is madness. The viability of Government plans for the eventual disposal of nuclear waste was a closed subject as controversially the Government believes the 'Deep Geological Facility' will one day become a reality. The process is currently part of a 'volunteerist' scheme but only one area - Cumbria - has put itself forward and may pull out at any stage. A recent geological report appears to show that many parts of Cumbria are unsuited to a deep repository. So Oldbury and other sites may in fact be permanently left with the waste.

This week I've had conversations with local campaigners about how we might tackle this nonsense from the Coalition. Shepperdine Against Nuclear Energy have already produced a leaflet that is being distributed - any folks want to help in Stroud area?
"This Government just doesn't have a coherent energy policy. Nuclear power can't deliver the necessary short-term emissions reductions. We need far more investment in both conservation and renewables, including supporting infrastructure like the port upgrades the Government is talking about scrapping." Caroline Lucas, Green Party MP for Brighton

"The Coalition promised no public subsidy for nuclear power, but it appears to be going back on its word - not ruling out a cap on liability costs for nuclear operators in case of an accident is a subsidy by another name. The Government is also giving a green light to new gas power stations, locking us into a high-carbon economy....(the) new national policy statements are reckless in their disregard for tackling climate change - they seem to contain more guidance for energy developers on avoiding dust and insect infestation than on cutting carbon emissions. Nuclear power is not the solution to tackling climate change - it would leave us saddled with toxic waste for centuries to come and not another penny of public money should be spent on it. We don't need nuclear power - or new gas power stations beyond those already in the pipeline - the Government's own figures say so. The Coalition's top priority should be to develop renewable energy sources like wind, wave and solar that, together with tackling energy waste, will secure our energy supplies, create hundreds of thousands of new jobs, and set us firmly on the path to a safer, cleaner future." Simon Bullock, Friends of the Earth

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