18 Sep 2013

The Nuclear Industry, Government and the Media

Have you ever wondered why we receive so little information about the ill-fated nuclear reactors at Fukushima? Or the massive, year-long protests against proposed new nuclear reactors on the East and West coasts of India? Or even about Scotland's decision to be nuclear-free? Why do we hear so little about the ill-effects of nuclear power, its enormous cost and legacy of dangerous radioactive waste?

In 2004 Andrew Brown, Gordon Brown's brother, was hired by the world's largest nuclear power provider, Electricite de France (EDF), as head of media relations. In 2008, EDF bought British Energy and its eight old nuclear power stations. In 2010, the nuclear industry worldwide peaked, before beginning its rapid decline to the present level, the same as 10 years ago. EDF's shares began their downward slide and the prospect of them being allowed to build any more new nuclear power plants in France looked less and less likely. In 2011, as their share value continued to plummet, EDF formed a stakeholder advisory panel, employing Chris Patten, chair of the BBC Trust, as chair of the panel and Diane Coyle, vice chair of the BBC Trust, as a member the panel. She is married to BBC News Technology Correspondent, Rory Cellan-Jones. Other members of the panel include Will Hutton, former editor of the Observer and a leading commentator on social and political affairs, and Sir Richard Lambert, former director of the CBI and former editor of the Financial Times. Chris Patten is linked to David Cameron through Patten's former chief of staff, who is now chief of staff to Cameron.

The British public have been subjected to a barrage of pro-nuclear publicity, including mantras such as 'Nuclear is carbon free' and 'We need nuclear to keep the lights on'. But the cost of nuclear new-build has risen exponentially over the past decade, and EDF has now lost 85% of its share value while the cost of many forms of renewable energy has fallen and continues to fall.

EDF has been promised numerous Government subsidies to help cover the costs of nuclear new build, while Hitachi, who were responsible for the design of the Fukushima reactors and bought the land adjacent to the old Oldbury nuclear power plant, are watching with interest to see how much taxpayer money they can rely on. Do we really want to allow Hitachi to build a new nuclear power plant at Oldbury?

Angela Paine

Together with Nadine Smykatz-Kloss and John Marjoram, Angela has organised two talks on aspects of nuclear energy. The dates for your diary are:

Thursday, 26th September: John Large will talk about radioactive waste and threats to Gloucestershire.

Wednesday, 30th October: Roger Moody will talk about the devastating environmental impact of uranium mining and ask whether nuclear power really is carbon neutral

Both talks will take place in the Old Town Hall in Stroud, from 7.30 till 9.30pm.

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