As you can’t fail to have noticed, Gordon Brown has given his blessing to a new generation of nuclear power stations.
So we are asking for your help to keep this website going, with more frequent updates, and more briefings for campaigners.
New reactors are not going to start springing up very quickly though. A Strategic Siting Assessment to identify possible sites will begin later this month with a consultation on draft criteria, but won’t be completed until the end of 2009. The Nuclear Installations Inspectorate is assessing four new designs, but won’t be finished until 2012. Then there will a planning process which might finish in 2013, so construction might start in 2014.
There is still everything to play for. The US Department of Energy, for example, reckons that by 2015 solar photovoltaics will be economically competitive – so any new reactors ordered will be economically obsolete before they are even open. Britain installed about 270 domestic solar PV systems in 2007, compared with 130,000 in Germany. The question is, not whether there will be a global renewable energy boom, but whether the UK will be part of it, and build its own renewable energy manufacturing base.
Old people are dying at the rate of around 8 every hour from cold related illnesses during the winter months – how exactly will a nuclear renaissance help? In 2006 the German government began a 20-year project to bring 5% of pre-1978 housing stock up to a low carbon standard every year. In Britain the new Carbon Emission Reduction Target, which comes into force in April, will force utilities to install Low or Zero Carbon Technologies in around 40,000 existing houses per year – but if we are to reduce CO2 emissions by 80% by 2050 we need to be doing 600,000 per year.
The big worry is that attention, finances and resources will get diverted from what we really need to be doing now to tackle climate change. We can’t afford to wait until 2025 to see if a new reactor programme is successful, or whether it turns out to be, to paraphrase what the old Scottish Office said about Torness, a £30bn mistake.
Evidence from Finland suggests that when the first western European reactor to be built since Chernobyl was ordered, many of Finland’s plans for energy efficiency and renewables were quietly forgotten. Now the Olkiluoto reactor is 50% over-budget and two and a half years behind schedule, so Finland will probably miss its Kyoto targets.
Sir Jonathon Porritt says UK ministers are putting more effort into encouraging nuclear power than they have devoted to the entire field of renewables over the last 10 years. Ministers see nuclear power as the only manageable mega-fix available to them, the ultimate get-out-of-jail-free card – a sad and extraordinarily ill-judged illusion.
This website, which we launched at the beginning of 2005, aims to provide the kind of detailed, well referenced information that campaigners around the country fighting the drift towards a nuclear renaissance will need. We were able to do this with seed funding from a Scottish Environment Group. But with other priorities, like the Scottish Climate Change Bill, they are not able to fund us ad infinitum. And we now want to give the website some serious updating, and more continuous attention.
So we are asking if you might be able to help with a donation. You can send money via Paypal at: http://www.no2nuclearpower.org.uk/help/donations.php or do it the old fashioned way by sending a cheque made out to no2nuclearpower to me c/o Friends of the Earth Scotland, Thorn House, 5 Rose Street, Edinburgh EH2 2PR.
You could also help by passing on the website’s details to other people who might be concerned enough to help out.
Walt Patterson says the pro-nuclear argument was comprehensively demolished two decades ago, so, like many people, he was astonished and bemused when nuclear power re-entered the policy agenda again in 2005. Perhaps this is because politicians, journalists and even environmentalists don’t know any of the history, so won’t be aware of the reasons why nuclear power should have been killed off in the 1980s. First time voters at the 2005 General Election were not even born when the Chernobyl nuclear disaster shocked the world. Given the nuclear industry’s history of failure, why the Government thinks this industrial basket-case might be an appropriate place to look for a solution to the climate change problem is a bit mystifying.
I’m sure you’ll agree that if the website can properly examine the arguments put forward to support a nuclear renaissance, get the information disseminated, and act as an anti-nuclear resource for people seeking to oppose the drive to get new reactors built, we should have a fighting chance of reversing this crazy policy. TOGETHER WE CAN STOP THEM.
All the best,
Pete Roche No 2 Nuclear Power
You can send cheques, made payable to “no2nuclearpower”, to Pete Roche c/o Friends of the Earth Scotland, Thorn House, 5 Rose Street, Edinburgh EH2 2PR.
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