2 Jul 2010

Must stop subsidies to new nukes

I have very real concerns about the growing moves to subsidise nuclear power despite all saying they wont - it seems backdoor subsidies are the name of the game.

Photo: Oldbury viewed from top of Ash Lane, Randwick

Here is a letter to local press from our action group Stop Oldbury:

The recent discovery of the £4 billion black hole in the budget for decommissioning nuclear power stations, including Oldbury, is yet another blow to plans for new nukes. However it would appear that despite this, the new coalition government is still pushing ahead with what look set to be vast subsidies to the nuclear industry via the so-called Fixed Unit Price (FUP).

Greenpeace have just released a report outlining the extent of the potential subsidy. The FUP risks leaving the taxpayer liable in the future for potentially enormous costs like spent fuel management. If the Government proposes such a subsidy then this is a fundamental policy shift and should be publicly reconsulted.

Interestingly a story, barely reported in the British press, is another indication of how people are challenging the nuclear dinosaur. The Australian Electrical Trade Union (ETU), equivalent to our Unite, have concerns about uranium and ionising radiation causing cancer. They have taken a stand banning their members on ethical and safety grounds from working in every area of the nuclear industry, from uranium mining to nuclear power plants.

Peter Simpson, ETU secretary, has said: "We're sick of hearing about nuclear power as the panacea of global warming, we're sick of people sweeping safety issues under the carpet." There are plenty of ways to produce sustainable electricity and energy efficiency while leaving uranium safely in the ground. ETU's brave and principled stand is of great significance to all our futures and it cannot be ignored.

In a recent survey the vast majority of respondents want more investment in renewables, with 71 per cent saying promoting solar and wind power was a better way of tackling climate change than nuclear power (Cardiff University/Ipsos MORI poll ). Let's scrap FUP and get on with developing clean, safe energy. As Poet Danny Chivers said about using nuclear power to tackle climate change, "Let's breed slugs in the garden to keep down the weeds."

Angela Paine and Philip Booth,
Stop Oldbury

The moves towards nukes are all so unnecessary as Britain could cut greenhouse gas emissions to zero in 20 years, creating new jobs in the process, if a range of measures are introduced, including an 80% reduction in livestock numbers.

A vision of a Zero Carbon Britain in 2030 is set out in a report published by the Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT), and backed by organisations including four universities and the Met Office, and experts including Sir John Houghton, former co-chair of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

As No2Nuclear comment in their latest excellent bulletins: "In just two decades the report says the UK can eliminate greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to 637m tonnes of carbon dioxide in 2007. 90% of this would be achieved by eliminating the most wasteful uses of energy, increasing renewable electricity and heating, and transforming land use and farming. The remaining 10% or 67m tonnes would be “offset” by capturing the equivalent emissions from the atmosphere by growing willow, ash, pine, oak and other trees on land freed up by almost abolishing animal grazing. Despite setting more ambitious timetables than demanded of Britain, the pace and scale of transition is “entirely possible”, said Viki Johnson of the New Economics Foundation and one of the report's authors. “The solutions exist, what has been missing to date is the political will to implement them.”"

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