Thursday, May 24, 2007

Tony Blair "hell-bent" on more nuclear power


Exchange in the House of Commons yesterday:

Sir Menzies Campbell:
"Can the Prime Minister explain why in his manifestos of 1997, 2001 and 2005, he did not seek a mandate for a new generation of nuclear power stations? Why is he so hell-bent on nuclear power now?"

Tony Blair: "We are going to go from a situation, as my right honourable friend [Alistair Darling] will explain today where we are 80%-90% self-sufficient in oil and gas - that is going to decline completely in relation to gas, largely in relation to oil.
We are also going to have a situation where a lot of the fleet of power stations becomes obsolete and our nuclear power stations become obsolete.
Now, if we want to have secure energy supplies and reduce CO2 emissions we have got to put the issue of nuclear power on the agenda.
If people are not prepared to do that, then I would like them to explain how we are going to manage to reduce that self-sufficiency, dramatically as I describe, how we are going to be able through wind-power or renewables to make up the huge deficit that nuclear power is going to leave and if we are about serious policy-making I'm afraid we have got to confront and take decisions on these issues."

Sir Menzies:
"Very clearly, in the Cabinet Office Review of 2003.
Why is it that the Prime Minister is so committed to nuclear power in a way which suggests he disregards the issue of risk and cost and toxic waste?
Where is the investment in wave, wind, and tidal power, and clean coal technology that would give us a secure, non-nuclear, future?"

Tony Blair:
"Look, first of all, we are boosting renewable energy significantly.
But let's be absolutely clear about this; we are not going to be able to make up through wind farms all the deficit on nuclear power, we're just not going to be able to do it.
And in addition to that, we have had nuclear power in this country for over half a century without the problems that the honourable gentleman draws attention to.
And I also urge him to look round the world, and he will see that at this present time, I think I am right in saying, there are something like 70 to 80 new proposals for nuclear power stations, and that is for a perfectly sensible reason, that every country round the world is looking at these two problems: securing energy supply, with sufficient diversity; and reducing CO2 emissions.
And the reason why we should look at nuclear power as an option here is because if we don't do that, we are simply, for reasons, in my view, of ideology, putting it to one side when plainly round the world many others are coming to the opposite conclusion."

Analysing that answer:

we are boosting renewable energy significantly
See earlier blog entry about the cuts in government grants in two key areas.

Giving aid to multi-national companies to set up wind farms is not a big boost to renewable energy.

we are not going to be able to make up through wind farms all the deficit
(admitting that this "one-club" approach is inadequate).

He fails to address the points about wave and tidal power, and clean coal technology, all of which have been shown to be more productive than wind generators. The answer must be that the Westminster government has done nothing about these.
Sadly, news has come through that a Scottish carbon-capture scheme, proposed by BP, has been abandoned. Is this because there is no longer a LibDem minister in Scotland to push it through?

we have had nuclear power in this country for over half a century without the problems that the honourable gentleman draws attention to
Maybe Tony Blair is too young to remember when Windscale (now Sellafield) blew its stack, but he must have been aware of the discovery of the Dounreay "drain". The aggravating problem of storage of waste must also have come to his attention. Until the government has the guts to publish a strategy for the long-term storage of nuclear waste, which is still piling up, it cannot be deemed fit to start another nuclear programme.

round the world many others are coming to the opposite conclusion
So we must keep up with the Jones? (Or rather, Patels and Kims.)

securing energy supply
Does he not realise that nuclear fuel has to be imported, and that we are not self-sufficient in the raw material? That there is logic in India, and even Iran, which do have uranium ore, developing their own nuclear generating capacity, while we would be making ourselves dependent on other countries? That is before the difficulties of transporting the fuel are considered.

"Hell-bent" and "committed" just about sum the Prime Minister up. In this he is just as obstinate and unable to listen to reasoned argument as Mrs Thatcher.
Post a Comment