19 May 2012

Nuclear energy policy is in meltdown

Oldbury viewed from Randwick
Below is my letter to local press earlier this week re nuclear. It was also good to see that my letter to the press last week made it into the trade press and Waste Management World (see here)!

Anyway the nuclear issue has been rumbling on with many twists and turns...one local Green party attended the recent Site Stakeholders meeting at Oldbury Power station.  The second (final) reactor at Oldbury has now been shut down - earlier than the most recent plan due to safety issues. 58,000 graphic rods from the reactor core now have to go by road to Berkeley and then by train to Sellafield, with low-level radioactive metals going to Germany for recycling.

GWE and EON created a joint company Horizon, who bought land at Shepperdene next to Oldbury, applying for planning permission for a nuclear power station, but following Fukushima want to sell the land. Indeed the future is now very unclear...here's my letter....

Britain's nuclear energy policy is on the verge of meltdown. Most companies seem to have serious concerns about nuclear investment. Estimated costs for the two Somerset reactors have risen by 40% to an astonishing £7bn. The new French president plans cuts to nuclear and the German pull out of Horizon puts into doubts the nuclear sites at Oldbury (16 miles from Stroud) and Wylfa on Anglesey. Russian and Chinese companies (incl the one which built Chernobyl) are thought to be interested. But is the Coalition really thinking of handing over control of our energy policy to other countries?

Meanwhile the taxpayer will now have to subsidise nuclear costs as the Coalition 'rig' the market in favour of nuclear; this is despite Coalition promises of no subsidies. The Government will also cover any costs over £1bn in the event of an accident; Fukushima clean-up is estimated to be £250bn. Another blow comes from Defra in an unpublished report, which showed 12 of the 19 nuclear sites, including Oldbury, as being at risk of flooding and coastal erosion due to climate change (i). Plus we still don't have a safe solution for the nuclear waste.

On top of all this the Energy Fair group show that by the time any new nuclear plant could be built in the UK, the market for its electricity will be disappearing. This will be largely due to the development of the European internal market for electricity and rapidly falling costs of photovoltaics and other renewables. Renewables are easier and quicker to build and far less risky; nuclear disasters have been averaging one every 11 years and new builds have gone stratospherically over budget. Why would anyone take the nuclear road?

Cllr Philip Booth, Stroud District councillor for Randwick, Whiteshill and Ruscombe ward (Green)

(i) See:http://www.robedwards.com/2012/03/most-nuclear-sites-at-risk-of-flooding-and-coastal-erosion-says-government-study.html

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