So the Government is going to build new nuclear power stations. John Hutton will announce it today, Take II after the initial mess of the “procedurally unfair” consultation process. I’m not an outright hater of nuclear power – I think we would be foolish to decommission the UK’s existing nuclear power stations early, and I am also not unduly bothered by the security issues. More analysis from Peter Tatchell here. The UK definitely should not go down the German line – decommission and then import more nuclear-generated electricity from France to bridge the gap.
Yet there are 2 issues that give me grave cause for concern. First is the issue of waste. What do we do with it? How do we manage to store it safely? Secondly, I am concerned that the government is just being cowardly with this decision with regard to the environmental benefits. The idea is to paint the picture that nuclear is the carbon friendly option, while the government is willing to take on Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, and the people who will be living next to wherever these 10 new reactors are going to be built. The government would rather, it seems, annoy those few people a lot, than take alternative policy options: radical improvements for energy efficiency of homes, district heating, decentralised CHP projects, and major expansion of wind power. The first two of those would entail a change in behaviour of many millions of Britons and that’s a political risk that is not worth taking. So annoy a few people a lot, rather than mildly inconveniencing the many. What were those words that Brown was saying about tough decisions?