|(News of the month May 2006).
THE NUCLER DEBATE - STILL UNCLEAR .
Paul Palmer, founder of Green ISP, has written to the press complaining of Bernard Ingham's recent attack on local Green sympathisers, especially those who question the Nuclear Power option recently placed firmly in the public eye by the Prime Minister Tony Blair yesterday (16/05/06).
Bernard Ingham used his column to make a vicious, unfounded attack on the local Green community. Mr Ingham rubbishes green and clean micro-electricity generation. But in the UK we are in an ideal position to take advantage of these technologies (especially where Green ISP is based here in the upper Calder Valley) – both for the future of our planet and to bring worthwhile employment. Kirklees council are leading the way in Solar Electricity generation by outputting 1/20th of UK’s total PV electric capacity for example.
In a recent compilation of industry, and here’s something for Mr Ingham to ponder over; official data published in June 2005 by Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) found that “micro power” worldwide has already surpassed nuclear power in both annual output (in 2005) and installed capacity (in 2002), and is growing far faster in absolute terms.
Bernard Ingham is employed by the Pro Nuclear lobby and attempts to deliberately mislead people by using comments such as “Greens are lifestyle wrecking”. His former boss, Margaret Thatcher closed the mines and moved electricity production to gas. This is why we are now net importers of Gas. And this is why our bills are going up by around 20% this year, ok carbon emissions may have been reduced slightly as a consequence but this was simply not thought through as is the case with the nuclear option today.
Bernard Ingham would like us to waste even more money on the nuclear option. Where are these Nuclear plants going to be built? On the same coastal sites as existing plants even though climate change is almost certainly going to bring coastal erosion and the threat of sea level.
What about global security? Roger Higman, a climate change campaigner for Friends of the Earth has said, ”If we are going to be using nuclear to combat climate change, it will be impossible to persuade anybody else to reduce their emissions without giving them access to nuclear power.. and that also enables them to build nuclear bombs."
Contributions: David Pym & Chris Ratcliffe.Sources: RMI and EarthScan
THE COST AND IMPLICATIONS
£70 billion is the calculation so far to clean up old nuclear power stations, just imagine if this money and all the rest squandered on the nuclear white elephant had been invested into sustainable technologies. Britain would be leading the world in fighting climate change. In the meantime, the government is intending to spend less than £50 million into research on wave and tidal power which some experts see as being able to supply up to 50% of all our domestic need if the will was there.
So now just after the 60th anniversary of nuclear electricity production in Britain, it is appropriate to review what benefits it has brought apart from ensuring a ready supply of enriched fuels for nuclear weapons, high cost electricity and a nuclear waste legacy. Still, after more than 60 years, there is not only no safe way to dispose of the accumulated high level radioactive waste, there is no strategy in place to dispose of it. By 2025 all but one of Britain’s reactors are due to be decommissioned producing further piles of low and high-level radioactive waste.
Britain currently has 31 reactors in 14 power stations generating 20-25% of the nation’s electricity. As an example of Nuclear energy cost effectiveness eight of the newest power stations were privatised to British Energy in 1996. In 2002 the government bailed out British Energy from insolvency through a £650 million loan and by underwriting the decommissioning fund for the reactors to the tune of £150-200 million pounds per annum for a minimum of 10 years, decreasing thereafter (by how much??) up to 2086. Its public partner British Nuclear Fuels (BNFL) operates the remaining six power stations and all nuclear waste liabilities it has made an operating loss since its inception.
Figures for the last three financial years reveal total losses before tax of 2002 (£1017 million), 2003 (£299 million) and 2004 (£287 million). It seems the nuclear fuel industry is being subsidised to the tune of £500 million pounds per year by the taxpayer. Thus the following statement in the government white paper on energy policy in 2003 states that renewable energy sources should be a priority and that ‘while nuclear is currently an important source of carbon free electricity, the current economics of nuclear power make it an unattractive option for new generating capacity and there are also important issues for nuclear waste to be resolved.’