EDITOR’S COMMENT: WE ARE LESS CONCERNED ABOUT REACHING CLIMATE CHANGE TARGETS AS WE ARE ABOUT PROTECTING PEOPLE’S JOBS AND LIVELIHOODS, AND HAVING ENERGY SECURITY. WE THINK THAT NUCLEAR ENERGY SHOULD PLAY A BIG PART IN OUR FUTURE STRATEGY. DO YOU AGREE? SIGN OUR PETITION NOW!
Given the UK’s commitment to non-carbon energy generation by 2050, nuclear power will be an essential part of the mix if the lights are to stay on. News that the Government has opened talks with the state-owned French company EDF for a power plant in Sizewell, Suffolk, is welcome. EDF is already building a power station at Hinkley Point in Somerset backed by Chinese investment. Another is planned at Bradwell in Essex using Chinese technology.
Each plant will produce seven per cent of the UK’s energy requirements and will take up the strain from closing fossil fuel sources. Even so, many of the campaigners who have pressed for the eradication of carbon are perversely opposed to nuclear power as well, imagining that the nation’s needs will be met by renewables such as wind. They will not be, not least when most cars are required to run on electricity.
There are understandable economic misgivings about nuclear because the massive costs have to be underwritten by the taxpayer since investors will not accept the risk. There are also political considerations in view of the diplomatic froideur with China and the UK’s departure from the EU. Since nuclear power is being provided by state actors in China and France, it must be asked why the British state does not take on the projects and remove the involvement of foreign powers entirely. Part of the reason is that dithering by successive governments has allowed the expertise required to build nuclear power plants to dwindle. The Thatcher government in the Eighties envisaged building eight new stations but only one was ever commissioned. It has been one of the great failures of public policy of the past 40 years.