Greenman's Occasional Organ

Ecosocialist. Syndicalist. Critical Techno-Progressive.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Did I just mention a nuclear stitch-up?

Reading: Local paper, BBC News Webpages, Shiona Baird MSP's webpages, UK political blogs site, Joe Otten's blog, Cllr Andy D'Agorne's blog, Derek Wall's blog.
Listening: Manic Street Preachers
Viewing: BBC News, Lost.

Now, what was I saying about a nuclear stitch-up and Blair already having made his mind up? Tony has been giving a talk to his best mates at the CBI, and announcing his heavily trailed line that the nuclear option is "back with a vengeance". Well, let battle commence. Coupled with his government's recently announced intention to massively increase the incineration element of waste management in the UK, and their intention to concrete the green belt, alter planning laws that get in their way (indeed it seems, any laws that get in their way) Blair can now justly be described as an environmental criminal as well as a war criminal.
Perhaps it is worthwhile to remember at this point the key elements of the Sustainable Development Commission's report on the future energy options -
Scottish Sustainable Development Commissioner Hugh Raven, said:
"Our report proves how right Scotland is to fight for its no nuclear policy. We've thoroughly investigated nuclear power over the last year, but have found that any potential benefits are outweighed by substantial disadvantages. With our amazing renewable resources combined with some serious political willpower Scotland could become a true world leader in clean, sustainable energy."
The report identifies five major disadvantages to nuclear power:
i. Long-term waste - no long term solutions are yet available, let alone acceptable to the general public; it is impossible to guarantee safety over the long-term disposal of waste.
ii. Cost - the economics of nuclear new-build are highly uncertain. There is little, if any, justification for public subsidy, but if estimated costs escalate, there's a clear risk that the taxpayer will be have to pick up the tab.
iii. Inflexibility - nuclear would lock the UK into a centralised distribution system for the next 50 years, at exactly the time when opportunities for micro-generation and local distribution network are stronger than ever.
iv. Undermining energy efficiency - a new nuclear programme would give out the wrong signal to consumers and businesses, implying that a major technological fix is all that's required, weakening the urgent action needed on energy efficiency.
v. International security - if the UK brings forward a new nuclear power programme, legally we cannot deny other countries the same technology (Under the terms of the Framework Convention on Climate Change). With lower safety standards, they run higher risks of accidents, radiation exposure, proliferation and terrorist attacks.
On balance, the SDC finds that these problems outweigh the advantages of nuclear.

There has been much talk about Blair wanting to "secure his legacy" before he leaves Number Ten. Perhaps Blair's idea is to have a legacy that will really last - thousands of years in the shape of piles of radioactive waste!

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At 10:25 am, Blogger Joe Otten said...

As I said in my blog here I think the SDCs arguments are of mixed quality. Points iii and iv, in particular are very weak if not entirely muddled. The other arguments are much better.

At 3:45 pm, Blogger greenman said...

On point three, surely generation closer to point of use is a good idea, given the scale of energy loss and costs of energy conveyance over long distances. Point three seems to be merely making the point that the nuclear option makes energy generation closer to point of use less likely?


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